Maryland voters know little about reform

Though Maryland has been one of the biggest supporters of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, most residents of the state don’t understand what it means for them.

A new poll out Monday shows that while the majority of Maryland voters support health reform, only about 30 of survey respondents claim to know “a lot” about specific provisions of the law. Among those who could benefit the most from the law, awareness remains particularly low.

“Maryland has been a national leader in implementing and supporting reforms that improve residents’ access to affordable and high-quality health care,” says Nikki Highsmith Vernick, president and CEO of The Horizon Foundation, an independent health philanthropy that sponsored the poll.

Vernick also says it’s critical for everyone to understand what the law means for them.

For example, more than 60 percent of Marylanders earning less than $30,000 say they know just “a little” or “not much” about the benefits of the law. More than half of women without a college education, those earning between $30,000-$50,000 and African American women report the same. In contrast, 20 percent of those earning more than $100,000 say they know only “a little” or “not much” about health reform.

The percentage of Marylanders in support of the law greatly exceeds the percentage of the public expressing support in national polls. In an August 2012 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, for example, 43 percent of Americans said they have a favorable opinion of the law.

Overall, 59 percent of Maryland voters support or strongly support the health care reform law compared to just 19 percent who oppose it. The remaining 22 percent say they’re unsure.

The poll also shows that support of the law grew as people learned more about it. After listening to a list of some of the law’s specific provisions, public support among Marylanders jumped from 59 percent to 73 percent.

Maryland was one of the few states that embraced health reform as soon as it was signed into law in 2010. The state expects to hit all the federal deadlines in January 2014.

[Read "Five states embracing reform"]

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