In October 2008, about one month before the presidential election, 62% of Americans said it was “more important than ever to take on health care reform.” By July 2009, 56% of Americans agreed with that statement.

Thus, more than one-half of Americans still believe in passing health reform in 2009, although the majority is somewhat eroding. The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll of July 2009 from the Kaiser Family Foundation continues to monitor Americans’ collective temperature on issues shaping health reform.

Still, twice as many Americans say that the U.S. will be better off than worse off if Congress passes health reform — 51% on the positive side versus 23% on the negative.

Americans tend to go with what they know — let’s call it status quo expansion. 77% of Americans told KFF that expanding Medicare to uninsured people between 55 and 64 would be a good tactic for covering the uninsured. After expanding Medicare, expanding Medicare and other state programs like SCHIP were the next most favored way to cover uninsured people, with 74% of Americans liking that approach. Tax credits to help people buy private insurance were favored by 69% of Americans, and a mandate with financial aid was approved by 67% of Americans.

A majority of Americans likes the idea of a public plan – although if there were a government administered plan, people are roughly split between whether it would be likely to cause private companies to become more efficient and innovative versus drive private plans out of the health insurance market.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: The most negative messaging in health care proposals that would lose Americans’ support are issues around increasing peoples’ insurance premiums and out of pocket costs, limiting choice (and getting government “too involved” in personal health decisions), increasing taxes and the budget deficit.

At the same time, on the positive messaging front, 63% of Americans say that saving the country money over time would be a very positive message. Two-thirds of Americans would think positively about a plan that would help ensure the long-term fiscal viability of Medicare, and help people buy health insurance through financial help.

These findings bolster the overall American Perspective in July 2009: that costs and finances remain top of mind in the face of health insurance insecurity.

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