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POLITICS: PennAve

Poll: Americans see health care as the top problem

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Health Care,Polls,PennAve,Joseph Lawler,Economy,Government Shutdown

Americans think that health care is the No. 1 problem the government should be working on today — but aren't confident that the federal government can handle it.

In an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey released Thursday, over 50 percent of respondents named health care reform as the top issue needing attention from the government, more than named unemployment, the economy or the debt, which were the next top three problems.



The AP-NORC poll differs from other polls on Americans' views about the top problems the country faces because respondents were asked to name up to 10 problems rather than just one.

Gallup's long-running "top problems" poll, for instance, currently shows dissatisfaction with government as Americans' top issue. Government took the top spot following the October federal government shutdown, supplanting economic concerns. Health care, the third most cited problem, was named by 17 percent of respondents in December.

The AP-NORC poll's findings reflect the fact that bad news regarding health care has been prevalent since Obamacare's botched rollout in October. But while Americans are concerned about health care reform, they have little faith in the government to address their fears. Nearly 70 percent said that they lack confidence in the government to make progress in fixing health care.



Similarly, respondents were pessimistic that the government would successfully address the problems of unemployment and the weak economy. Over 80 percent said they had little faith in the government to lower the federal debt or deficit, despite the fact that the federal deficit declined in 2013.

Respondents were not particularly worried about income inequality, which President Obama identified in December as the "defining challenge of our time." Just five percent said that inequality was a major problem needing attention. And nearly all -- 93 percent -- of those who listed inequality as a problem said they were not at all or only slightly confident that the government could make real progress in addressing inequality in 2014.

The AP-NORC poll included 1,141 adults and was conducted between Dec. 12 and 16.

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