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Fox News Poll: Sharp Division on Health Care Reform

HealthCareSummit

Feb. 25: President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Joe Biden, Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at health care summit. (AP)

American voters are sharply divided over whether Congress should pass health care reform, though more say they want lawmakers to “do nothing” on the issue.

And if Thursday’s health care summit fails to bring a bipartisan compromise, a majority of voters say President Obama should start over with a new bill at a later time.

A Fox News poll released Thursday finds that while 46 percent of voters want a health care bill this year, slightly more -- 50 percent -- want legislators to do nothing for now.

PDF: Click here for full poll results.

The new results show an increase in support for health care reform, up five percentage points since December, when 41 percent wanted lawmakers to pass reform legislation. At that time a 54 percent majority wanted Congress to do nothing.

If President Obama is unable to reach a deal with Republicans at the summit, 59 percent think he should start from scratch later. Some 34 percent think he should go ahead and try to pass the current bill without Republican support.

By a 50 to 40 percent margin, more voters think the health care summit is a “sincere effort” on the president’s part to work out a compromise than think it is “just for show.”

Nearly seven out of 10 voters feel “fed up with” the health care debate, including most Republicans (82 percent) and most independents (70 percent), as well as half of Democrats (50 percent).

The national telephone poll was conducted for Fox News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 900 registered voters from February 23 to February 24. For the total sample, the poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

More voters than ever now disapprove of the job President Obama is doing on health care -- 56 percent. That’s 19 percentage points higher than the 37 percent who approve.

Furthermore, on only one other issue does the president receive lower ratings than on health care -- his handling of the federal deficit (31 percent approve and 61 percent disapprove).

Partisan Views

Most Democrats (77 percent) want lawmakers to pass health care reform, while most Republicans (80 percent) want Congress to do nothing. Among independents, 54 percent want no action taken on the issue, and four out of 10 want Congress to pass a reform bill (40 percent).

Not surprisingly, Democrats largely believe President Obama’s health care summit is a “sincere effort” to work out a compromise (81 percent). Far fewer Republicans think so: 68 percent say the summit is “just for show.” Views are split almost evenly among independents, with 43 percent saying “sincere effort” and 45 percent “just for show.”

If a compromise isn’t achieved at the summit, by a two-to-one margin Democrats think the president should still try to pass the bill without Republicans. Even so, 31 percent think the president should start over in this scenario.

For independents, it’s just the reverse, by more than two-to-one they support dropping the current bill and starting over. An overwhelming majority of Republicans say the current bill should be dropped if the health care summit fails to find bipartisan agreement.