Disapproval Rating for President Bush on Health Care Issues Increased in Past Year, Poll Finds
Public disapproval of President Bush's handling of health care issues has increased 13 percentage points since last year, despite the administration's hope that the new Medicare law (HR 1) would win the support of elderly voters, according to a new Gallup survey, the Washington Times reports (Hallow, Washington Times, 2/18). According to the survey of 1,001 adults taken Jan. 19 to Feb. 1, 57% of the public disapproves, 35% approves and 8% have no opinion of Bush's health care strategy. One year ago, 46% approved, 44% disapproved and 10% had no opinion of how Bush handled health care issues (Washington Times graphic, 2/18). Bush has received criticism for the Medicare legislation from some Democrats, who say the changes do not go far enough to curb prescription drug expenses for beneficiaries, as well as from some Republicans, who call the drug benefit "an unprincipled bid to buy votes in November" and who say the Bush administration hid the true costs of the full drug benefit during negotiations over the bill, the Times reports (Washington Times, 2/18). According to the Office of Management and Budget, the Medicare law will cost $534 billion over the next 10 years, $134 billion more than estimated by Congressional Budget Office. The fiscal year 2005 budget proposal Bush released cites the higher estimate (California Healthline, 2/13).
AARP, which was accused of "succumbing to pressure from insurance companies" after supporting the Medicare legislation last year, is launching an "aggressive campaign" to entice the 45,000 people who ended their membership with the group in protest of the endorsement to rejoin, the AP/Spokane Spokesman-Review reports. At a conference Tuesday in Boise, Idaho, AARP CEO Bill Novelli defended AARP's endorsement of the legislation, saying the law is "not perfect, but the perfect should not be the enemy of the good." He added, "We believe if we had not endorsed it there would be no prescription drug benefit on the books today." Novelli said that many of the people who ended their AARP memberships "simply did not understand the complex legislation," and the group will focus its recruitment efforts on educating beneficiaries about the legislation's provisions, according to the AP/Spokesman-Review. AARP volunteers are being trained to teach beneficiaries about the legislation. The AP/Spokesman-Review reports that despite the resignations last year, AARP's membership grew from 35.2 million to 35.7 million (Boone, AP/Spokane Spokesman-Review, 2/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.