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Give Us This Day Our Daily Contraceptive

| March 1, 2012

Click on the charts for larger view.

Six in ten Americans, including Catholics, said they support a requirement by the Obama administration that health plans supply free contraceptives as a preventive benefit for women, according to the latest tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Women were divided, with 85 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Independents supporting the requirement but only 42 percent of Republicans. Women across the political spectrum typically are closer together when it comes to supporting contraception rights.

“This is a time where the party attitudes about the role of government seemed to be a greater factor than necessarily being a woman,” said Mollyann Brodie, the foundation’s director of public opinion and survey research.

The poll also looked at how Americans are responding to recent Republican promises on Medicare. The latest proposals would convert Medicare from a program that provides a set of benefits regardless of the cost to one that gives beneficiaries a set amount of money. Seniors could use that money to buy either a private health plan or traditional fee-for-service Medicare.

Still, this nod to traditional Medicare has not persuaded the public. According to the poll, 70 percent of respondents and even 53 percent of Republicans said they wanted Medicare “as it is today, with the government guaranteeing seniors health insurance and making sure that everyone gets the same defined set of benefits.”

Overall, only 39 percent of Republicans said they thought Medicare should change to a premium support model that guaranteed seniors a fixed amount of money for health insurance, even if they could use it to buy traditional fee-for-service.

The poll calls into question whether Republicans will be able to count on the fee-for-service promise to provide them with political cover in November. House Republicans took heat last year when nearly every one of them voted for a premium support plan sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that did not include the traditional Medicare option.

Click on the chart for larger view.

Last November, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney unveiled his own premium-support plan and vowed that future seniors could still opt for fee-for-service. A month later, Ryan teamed up with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to include a similar promise. Romney and fellow GOP contender Newt Gingrich lauded the proposal. Romney’s toughest competitor on the campaign trail, Rick Santorum, though, said he would abolish fee-for-service Medicare.

Still, said Drew Altman, president of the foundation, how candidates couch the fee-for-service promise could make a difference in campaigns. In the poll, various ways of wording the question – raising issues like the solvency of Medicare or the increased power of insurance companies — changed support for reform significantly.
“The debate will definitely be moved by arguments of both sides,” Altman said. “Public opinion on premium support buy-in starts off in a negative place, but is malleable and where it ends up depends on how the debate unfolds.”

Responses were mixed for other proposals to change Medicare:

  • RAISING THE ELIGIBILITY AGE. Americans were roughly split when it comes to raising Medicare’s eligibility age gradually from 65 to 67. The widely discussed proposal wouldn’t affect current seniors, who were its biggest supporters. Sixty-three percent of those over age 65 backed raising the eligibility age, while only 43 percent of those under 50 did.
  • INCOME-LINKED PREMIUMS. A majority of respondents (54 percent) favored limiting premium increases to high income seniors. Fewer Republicans (46 percent) supported the approach.
  • INCREASING PREMIUMS FOR ALL. There was little support across-the-board for raising premiums for all seniors.

Despite great public interest in the Medicare and contraception issues, the poll indicated that the economy is still the dominant voting issue at this time. But 23 percent of respondents said that they would only vote for a candidate who shared their views on Medicare.

And Democrats have gained some ground on Medicare with seniors in this poll. “Democrats have always had the advantage on Medicare, but they used to have the advantage with seniors as well,” said Brodie. In late 2010, however, Republican congressional candidates hammered their Democratic opponents by claiming that their vote for the health law cut $500 billion out of Medicare. (The Ryan budget that passed the House last year also proposed $500 billion in Medicare savings.)

Republicans won control of the House in that election, and polls showed that Democrats had lost the support of seniors on the issue of Medicare. In the new poll, 43 percent of seniors said they trusted Democrats more to handle Medicare, while 36 percent placed their trust in Republicans.

The survey of 1,519 adults was conducted between Feb. 13 and Feb. 18. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.

–Marilyn Werber Serafini, Kaiser Health News

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11 Responses for “Give Us This Day Our Daily Contraceptive”

  1. The Truth says:

    I have now learned that most Republican’s seem to think a certain way because that’s the way they’re “supposed” to think. Rather than using common sense and looking at the issue and seeing it’s benefits, they claim they don’t support it simply because that’s what they’re supposed to say within their party.

    It’s guys like Santorum that feed into this horse poo.

  2. Vanessa Cheesewright via Facebook says:

    Seriously! What the heck is wrong with the other 40%. We need to raise more awareness on this issue!!!

  3. Think first, act second says:

    I find this study by Kaiser rather interesting. They show that 101% of the people questioned answered their familiarity question and it further shows that 64% of those questioned had No knowledge, some knowledge or only a little knowledge, and 1 % refused to answer the questions. Yet they used the 23% (I suppose that figure is correct since 101% was used) to formulate a study that they propose as accurate.
    Makes me wonder about the results.

  4. Yellowstone says:

    To begin with I think this entire topic is simply a distraction from all the really true issues: JOBS, financial crises, systemic fraud.

    But, for my 10-cents worth, I believe this issue is more about who (church, state, or the pharmaceutical company) has the right to tell you what you can, or cannot do. A power play.

    When you sit back and think about it, contraception has been with us for years and years. even still the church allows you practice ‘rhythm method’ and condoms.

    In the past no one has told you what you do with your sex life – except the church. Now some people want to force/enforce their opinions by enabling a federal law that will allow your employer (whether a church related organization or any other) to decide for you.

    Shouldn’t YOU have the right (not your employer) decide for you what is right for YOU in your family planning?

    Remember to vote for the correct Congressman this next time around – this next election is really going to count.

  5. Christie 2012 says:

    Whats wrong with just free condoms? Better than the pill and much cheaper, plus it can prevent STD’S. Win,Win the way I see it. If it’s good enough for the schoolchildren and college students that can receive free condoms at school, it should be good enough for everyone else. The taxpayer should not have to pay for more expensive types of contraceptives. This sounds to me like the hand out generation just wants more for someone else. How did we survive so many years without massive government involvement?

  6. fox24sly says:

    hope everyone watched the evening new with good old Rush Limbaugh saying that woman should video tape themselves while having sex & then put it on the internet for everyone to watch if health…whats super scary is that SO many people listen to him like a GOD. He has millions, rich from the people who adore him so he can say what ever he wants, no matter how offensive it may be. I hear it and it’s my CHOICE to think the man is a blasted idiot.
    Contraception choices is up to the individual…look at that family thats on TLC…how many kids do they have? 20? I don’t know…can’t stand to watch the show….but it’s their choice! It’s my choice not to watch the show! WE HAVE TO HAVE CHOICES.
    . if “Church” & Goverment want to become 1 then we need to take away their tax exemption…let them pay taxes!

  7. palmcoaster says:

    @ fox24. That courageous young lady, American woman and law student, openly insulted and libel in public thru use of instrumental public media by this coward, racist, bigot has to sue the pundit. Shame on Clear Channel an all the sponsors that sustain this vulgar bully. I am going just to watch it once, to learn who sponsors his trash, to boycott their products until they fire him. At least I will try!

  8. Eileen Curran via Facebook says:

    the other 40% likes welfare programs

  9. Outsider says:

    Nice try FlaglerLive; I know you’re no dummy, so I can only assume you are sacrificing your journalist “objectivity” for the Obama re-election cause. The whole uproar over employer financed contraception has never been about contraception; it’s been about the government blatantly violating the first amendment by requiring religious organizations, the Catholic church in particular to pay for something that is totally contrary to it’s teachings. It doesn’t matter one iota if 99 percent of Catholics use birth control, approve of birth control, or have daily sex before marriage. The backlash against this policy has been fierce, and rightly so. Now, the good little Obama soldiers are doing their darndest to pretend this was something other than what it actually was, and apparently you feel obligated to do your part.

  10. Dorothea says:


    Nobody is requiring the Catholic Church, or any other religious group, to pay for contraception. Insurance companies pay and churches are exempt. Only religious groups that operate a profit-making entity and receive government funding will be part of the health insurance coverage mandate for contraception. And that mandate is only for the profit making entitity, not the church.

  11. John Inc says:

    The 1st Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” This law does not “establish” a religion” nor does it prohibit anyone from practicing religion. What it does is require equal access to medical care for everyone, and contraception is most often care accessed through medical providers. The political leaders who are trying to get you to believe this is a 1st amendment issue – they are just putting party ahead of the people and they do not deserve the job.

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