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President Obama’s edge over Mitt Romney on health issues is narrowing

WASHINGTON – With six days until the election, President Obama’s double-digit lead over Mitt Romney when it comes to whom voters trust more on health policy has eroded over the last month, according to the latest Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll.

The poll, conducted every month, continues to show that voters are more likely to trust Obama than Romney to do a better job on health issues ranging from lowering health care costs to determining the future of Medicare and Medicaid.

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But Obama’s edge on most health issues has narrowed to just five to eight percentage points, according to October results released Wednesday. In September, the president had a 16 to 18 percentage point lead over Romney on these issues.

There is one exception: Obama continues to enjoy a large advantage on the issue of women’s reproductive health choices and services. On that topic, 51 percent of voters said they were more likely to trust Obama to do a better job. Only 33 percent chose Romney.

The largest change in public opinion on the candidates’ ability to handle health issues was in the future of Medicare, with Obama and Romney virtually tied at 46 percent to 41 percent. Last month, 52 percent trusted Obama and 36 percent favored Romney.

Among seniors over the age of 65, however, Romney enjoys the lead when it comes to the future of Medicare; 48 percent trust Romney, more compared to Obama’s 43 percent. Seniors say they overwhelmingly prefer the current Medicare system – with the government guaranteeing all seniors the same set of health insurance benefits – over the premium support system Romney is advocating, but Romney has promised not to subject current retirees or those close to retiring to his plan. Among the elderly, 72 percent prefer the status quo.

Romney has proposed privatizing Medicare, and changing the system to allow the government to allot each senior a fixed amount of money to buy either traditional Medicare or a private plan – an idea most voters of all ages oppose.

The poll can be found here.

Tracy Jan can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GlobeTracyJan.
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