Seniors uninformed on health care reform? - Washington Business Journal


by Ben Fischer

Source: Washington Business Journal

A research survey commissioned by the National Council on Aging has been making the rounds this week, and their findings carry a tinge of alarmism: According to the poll, senior citizens are woefully misinformed about the federal health care reform law.

If the poll results are valid, it does raise some eyebrows, because senior citizens are by far the age cohort most likely to think poorly of the law. (Every other age group likes it by narrow margins.)

The poll gave 636 Americans over the age of 65 a series of 10 statements about the law, with the responses "true," "false," or "don't know." In all 10 questions, a plurality of respondents didn't know or gave an incorrect response.

For instance, one question reads: "The new law will result in future cuts to your basic Medicare benefits." Forty-four percent said "yes," though the correct answer is "no." Another question reads: "The new law is projected to increase the federal budget deficit over the next ten years and beyond." Only 14 percent got the correct answer: "No."

Is it possible that the strongest voice of outrage on the controversial bill is coming from people who, as a group, don't know what's in it? Well, it wouldn't be the first time. But, on the other hand, as conservative health care wonk John Goodman argues, those "correct" answers are based on analyses by outfits such as the Congressional Budget Office and don't acknowledge contrary projections or other likely market reactions to the new laws as they're implemented. (The Hill's Healthwatch blog beat me to the punch on reporting Goodman's points.)

In short, the whole debate underscores an interesting question: Is it factually wrong to tell a pollster you think the Affordable Care Act will increase the deficit when the CBO says it won't? Or is it just a demonstration of healthy skepticism?

 

View PDF