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Americans Still Confused About Health Reform
Date:7/29/2010

9 percent didn't know or weren't sure if drug companies would pay an annual fee. (They will).

"The level of ignorance and misinformation is sort of astounding," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll, a service of Harris Interactive. "We've had an incredibly heated debate about this for a long time. And what people were reacting to was the rhetoric, not the substance of what was in the bill, because they didn't actually know what was or was not in the bill."

The political rhetoric was evident in respondents' lack of understanding when it came to questions about "rationing" care and "panels" deciding on care for the sick and elderly.

About 64 percent said the bill would result in rationing of health care, or that it might. (It won't.)

And about one-third believed, incorrectly, that the legislation means there will be "panels to decide what care very sick, older people should receive," while 44 percent weren't sure if the bill would establish these panels. (So-called "death panels" were a rallying cry for those opposed to the legislation. The final law doesn't include such provision.)

And about 36 percent believed, wrongly, that the bill calls for a government-run health plan to compete with private insurance, while 43 percent weren't sure. (A "public option," or government-run plan, was favored by Obama but did not end up in the final legislation.)

The poll also found that Americans are suspicious about who, ultimately, is going to pay for the expanded coverage and how much it would cost. A Congressional Budget Office report found the legislation will reduce the federal deficit over the next two decades. However, some 45 percent of those polled said the deficit would increase as a result of the legislation, while 42 percent weren't sure.

About 22 percent of those polled said the legislation wouldn't result in higher income taxes for the middle class, 37 percent said it would and 41 percent weren't sure.

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