Texans give Congress low marks on handling of health care, poll says


Highlights

Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they had a favorable view of Medicare, according to a Texas Lyceum poll.

Nearly 1 in 5 Republicans disapproved of President Donald Trump’s handling of health care issues.

Most Texans disapprove of how Congress and the federal government are handling the country’s health care issues despite supporting the Medicaid and Medicare programs, according to a poll by the Texas Lyceum released Tuesday.

Of the 1,178 adult Texans polled, 71 percent said they had little or no trust in the federal government to do what’s best for Texans when it comes to health care. Sixty-one percent disapproved of Republicans in Congress and 58 percent disapproved of Democrats in Congress in their handling of health care issues. Despite the lackluster marks, 64 percent said they had a favorable view of Medicare, which serves elderly Americans and 57 percent said they had a favorable view of Medicaid, which serves low-income and disabled Americans.

“Medicaid can sometimes feel like a bit of a dirty word in Texas,” said Joshua Blank, research director for Texas Lyceum, a nonprofit association for young Texas leaders. “When you think about the rhetoric that we hear especially toward Medicaid, it’s not really reflected in public attitudes in a way one might expect.”

The annual poll surveys adult Texans, including those who are not registered to vote or likely to vote. Since Texas Republicans have higher voter participation than the overall population, the Lyceum poll tends to portray a less conservative state than most political polls do. An equal percentage of Republicans and Democrats were polled — 39 percent. The poll’s overall margin of error was plus or minus 2.86 percentage points.

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When it came to President Donald Trump’s handling of health care issues, 83 percent of Democrats disapproved of his job and 19 percent Republicans disapproved.

The survey also asked about opioid addiction and perceptions on vaccines.

Although rates of opioid addiction aren’t as high in Texas as is in some other states, 1 in 3 Texans said they have known someone addicted to prescription painkillers. White Texans and those who make more than $40,000 a year were more likely to know addicts than their minority and less wealthy peers.

It “paints a picture of where this crisis is concentrated,” Blank said. “It also shows us that even in Texas, a place we don’t really think of as being hard hit … as other places, it has actually been hit pretty hard in terms of people (who) are very much affected by this.”

The survey found that 76 percent of Texans say the benefits of vaccinations outweigh the risk, with no partisan difference. Wealthier and more educated Texans were more likely to say vaccine benefits outweigh the risks.

When asked whether parents should be required to vaccinate their children, Republicans were more likely to answer no than Democrats — 20 percent versus 12 percent.

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Other findings of the poll:

• Nearly half said affordability is more important than accessibility and quality when it comes to health care.

• About four out of five Democrats said ensuring health care coverage is a government responsibility while 72 percent of Republicans say it’s not the government’s responsibility.

• Of the 54 percent who said providing health care coverage is the government’s responsibility, 46 percent prefer a national health insurance system.

• Nearly half said adult Americans are less healthy today than they were 20 years ago, and 61 percent said children are less healthy than 20 years ago.

• Forty percent said they disapproved of the Legislature’s handling of health care.



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