UW Survey: Wyoming Residents Have Mixed Views on Health Care Changes

(Laramie, Wyo.)  — The people of Wyoming oppose proposed changes in Medicare and continue to disapprove of the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare,” according to a recent University of Wyoming poll.

Regarding Obamacare, 24 percent of those surveyed approved of the law enacted in 2010, while 66 percent disapproved. A similar survey conducted two years ago showed almost identical results, with 26 percent approving and 68 percent disapproving.

Jim King, professor of political science at UW and the survey’s co-director, says the poll indicates that support for the health care law remains more unpopular in Wyoming than in the U.S. as a whole.

“National polls typically show about 40 percent of Americans approving the Affordable Care Act and about half disapproving,” he says. “Clearly, Wyomingites are more skeptical of the law.”

According to King, there is no relationship between a person’s opinion on the health care law and the quality of care available in a poll respondent’s community. Instead, general attitudes concerning the federal government seem to influence opinion on health care reform.

“Survey respondents who are distrustful of the national government are far more likely to oppose the new law than are respondents with positive views of the national government,” King says.

Wyoming residents also oppose a proposal to change Medicare, according to the UW poll. Survey participants were asked if, for people under the age of 55, Medicare should continue as it is today or if Medicare should be changed to provide seniors with a fixed amount of money toward private health insurance or Medicare insurance. Sixty-one percent responded that Medicare should continue as it is, while 27 percent prefer changing Medicare.

“On this issue, Wyomingites’ views on this Medicare reform match public opinion in the nation as a whole,” King says. “Surveys of Americans this year by a number of survey organizations have shown almost identical results.”

There is little relationship between people’s opinions on this Medicare proposal and their age. King says 60 percent of survey respondents age 64 or younger prefer continuing the current Medicare system, as do 68 percent of those age 65 or older.

Political ideology seems to influence opinion on Medicare reform. Survey respondents who identified themselves as liberal or moderate overwhelmingly preferred the current system, while conservatives split more evenly, with roughly half favoring the current system and 40 percent favoring change.

The statewide telephone survey of 668 Wyoming citizens was conducted in October by UW’s Survey Research Center. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. Biennial surveys of Wyoming residents have been conducted by the UW Political Science Department since 1972.