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More than three-quarters of Americans believe health system is experiencing a 'major crisis'

The numbers have been consistent for years, but major differences are starting to show between the two major political parties.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Most Americans think the healthcare system in the U.S. either has 'major problems' or is in a 'state of crisis,' with 70 percent expressing those sentiments, according the findings of a new Gallup poll.

The remaining 30 percent said the healthcare system has only minor problems, or no problem at all. The numbers are similar from a year ago -- then, it was a 71-to-29 percent split -- and in fact the figures have been more or less steady for the past decade, predating even the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

What has changed much more dramatically is the prevailing sentiment among the two major political parties.

IMPACT

Democrats were more likely to view the healthcare system as having major problems. In the poll, 84 percent of self-identified Democrats believe it's in a state of crisis. A year ago the number among Dems was 76 percent; in 2016 it was 63 percent.

A majority of Republicans feel the healthcare system has major problems, but it's barely a majority at 56 percent. And the number has been declining steadily. A year ago the figure was 71 percent, and in 2016 it was 80 percent.

Historically, Democrats have been more likely than Republicans to decry the state of American healthcare. According to previous poll numbers, Democrats' negative assessments abated somewhat following passage of the ACA. During former President Barack Obama's second term, Republicans were more likely to view the healthcare system as having major issues.

Although a majority of Americans in both political parties have a pessimistic outlook on healthcare, a slight majority have a favorable view of care quality -- 55 percent rate it positively.

Smaller percentages hold positive views on healthcare coverage (34 percent) and costs (20 percent).

THE TREND

The two major parties have floated drastically different proposals for addressing the ills of the healthcare system. Republicans have long vowed to repeal and replace the ACA, but even though they've been chipping away at it, the Department of Health and Human Services has made strides to stabilize the market.

Democrats, meanwhile, spent about half of their campaign funds on healthcare-centric advertisements in the run-up to November's midterm elections. The party went on to pick up 40 seats in the House, enough for a majority.
 

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com

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