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While still ranking behind the economy and jobs as the most important issues of the campaign, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and state-run Medicaid are still important factors for voters heading to the polls next Tuesday, a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll found.
More than 7 in 10 likely voters said the 2010 health reform law will be "extremely" or "very" important to their vote for president, and 65 percent said the same about Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for low-income Americans. Medicare, which has been a more high-profile issue during the campaign season, registered as extremely or very important for 77 percent of voters.
The economy and jobs ran away as the top issue for voters, with 93 percent saying they would be extremely or very important to their vote.
As with most issues, answers broke down along party lines: the ACA was extremely important for 41 percent of Democrats, 49 percent of Republicans and 18 percent of independents. Medicaid ranked as extremely important for 43 percent of Democrats, 20 percent of Republicans and 24 percent of independents.
As for whether President Barack Obama or Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney would handled health issues better, voters seemed to give the edge to Obama, but with less of a gap than Kaiser's September poll.
For example, 48 percent trust the president more in determining the future of the ACA (down from 53 percent in September), while 40 percent said the same of Romney (up from 36 percent). For Medicaid, 46 percent trust Obama more (down from 53 percent) and 39 percent trust Romney more (up from 35 percent).
On the general goal of lowering health-care costs, 46 percent sided with Obama (down from 51 percent in September) and 39 percent picked Romney (up from 35 percent).
Opinions of the ACA itself continued their rollercoaster ride on Kaiser's monthly poll. This month, 43 percent had an unfavorable view of the law (up from 40 percent in September), and 38 percent had a favorable view (down from 45 percent).
The Kaiser tracking poll, the last to be released before Tuesday's election, surveyed 1,215 U.S. adults who identified as likely voters between October 18 and 23. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 4 percent.