Polls: Public divided but slightly siding with Obama on healthcare

President Obama's goals for healthcare reform may be gaining traction in public opinion but Americans are still very divided about his reform proposals, two new polls released Wednesday indicate.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll found that a slim majority - 51 percent - favor President Obama's plan to reform the healthcare system. A slightly fewer number - 45 percent - oppose Obama's plan and four percent have no opinion.

A slightly larger majority - 55 percent - said the healthcare system needs a "great deal" of reform while 40 percent said "only some."

CNN points out that these numbers are higher than those President Bill Clinton registered in July of 1994. According to CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls then, 40 percent favored Clinton's plan while 55 percent opposed it.

A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday also found that nearly seven in 10 support a public option in healthcare reform, even tough fewer than three in 10 would opt for it over their current insurance.

And in other good news for Obama, a slim majority - 51 percent - said they understand the president's proposals. Forty-six percent are confused by it.

The CNN poll also found some troubling news for Obama. Fifty-four percent said they believe Obama's plan would increase the amount they spend on healthcare. A quarter said it would remain the same and 17 percent said it would decrease.

A plurality - 44 percent - said their family about be "about the same" if Obama's plan is enacted, but more than a third - 35 percent - said they would be worse off. Only 20 percent said they would be better off.

And the same percentage - 42 percent - believe an increased government role in healthcare will improve the current system as believe it will make it worse.

While respondents in the Quinnipiac poll said there should be a public option, nearly half of voters in that survey said they are "very satisfied" with their current insurance. Another third said they are "somewhat satisfied."

"American voters want their fellow countrymen to have the option of a public plan, but don't want a public plan for themselves because they are satisfied personally with their health care," Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling, said in a statement.

jeremy.jacobs@thehill.com

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