A majority of California voters remain unflinching in their support of
the federal health care overhaul, though nearly half of the electorate predicts
it won't affect them much, according to a new Field Poll.
Forty-six percent of California voters -- a plurality -- say they do not expect to be much better or worse off when the law is fully enacted, according to the poll. Of those who do expect their families to be affected, 23 percent predict they'll fare better, 26 percent worse.
The poll, sponsored by the nonprofit California Wellness Foundation, comes as the state prepares to implement major changes under the law next year, including a requirement that nearly all Americans carry health insurance or pay a penalty.
Public opinion about the law has remained virtually unchanged since its enactment in 2010 and is reflective of California's heavily Democratic tilt: Registered voters support the law 53 percent to 38 percent, with large majorities of Democrats and liberal voters in favor and large majorities of Republicans and conservative voters opposed.
The law enjoys greater than 2-1 support in California's left-leaning population centers, in and around Los Angeles and San Francisco, while pluralities of voters oppose the act in inland, more conservative reaches of the state.
Voters under 30 support the law 63 percent to 27 percent, while voters 65 and older are more evenly divided, with 47 percent in favor and 43 percent opposed, according to the poll.
"This law is just highly charged politically," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll. "People have their opinions on it and are pretty stable. They haven't changed over time."
The public is only marginally more knowledgeable about the law than it was two years ago. Just 15 percent of registered voters say they are very knowledgeable about specific changes contained in the law, a 4 percentage point increase over 2011, according to the poll.
Sixty percent of voters say they are somewhat knowledgeable, a 7 percentage point increase in the last two years, according to the poll.
"It's pretty confusing," said Dennis Montgomery, a rice farmer from Glenn. "I don't really know what's going on, but I like the idea. I mean, everybody ought to have affordable health care."
Montgomery, a 62-year-old Democrat, said he has been without health insurance since 1989, when he hurt his back and quit working at a sawmill.
He said he probably will sign up for insurance on the exchange but that "I'm pretty much confused now. It's like, if they could get a mail-out thing from the government, that's what they need ... a little catalogue or something."
The public's still-middling knowledge registers less than two months before state health care exchanges open for enrollment in October. Covered California, the state exchange, expects about 2.3 million Californians to enroll in a health plan through the exchange by 2017, and it will spend millions of dollars on outreach and marketing.
Public support for the health care law remains steadfast in California despite flagging support for President Barack Obama, whose approval rating in the Golden State plummeted to 52 percent last month, a 10 percentage point drop from February, according to the Field Poll.
The health care law is considered the most far-reaching legislative achievement
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