In the wake of well-publicized problems with military medical care, the public is harshly critical of the government’s performance in providing care for soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan: Just 26% rate the government’s performance as excellent (4%) or good (22%), while 65% say it is either only fair (33%) or poor (32%). Ratings of the government’s handling of medical care for returning soldiers divide along partisan lines, with Republicans expressing a less negative opinion than Democrats. Even so, a plurality of Republicans (47%) say the government has done only a fair or poor job in providing medical care to U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Roughly three-quarters of Democrats (76%) and 68% of independents take a negative view of the government’s performance in this area. As might be expected, there is greater disagreement over who bears the greatest blame for the troubles at Walter Reed. Most Republicans (55%) say the blame largely rests with the hospital officials themselves, while a sizable minority (20%) blames Congress. A plurality of independents (36%) also believes that Walter Reed hospital officials are mostly to blame. By contrast, 35% of Democrats say the Bush administration is mostly to blame for the problems at Walter Reed, compared with 24% who blame the hospital officials. Notably, just 10% of the public — including relatively small numbers of independents (12%), Democrats (9%) and Republicans (9%) — believe that most of the responsibility for the poor medical care at Walter Reed rests with top military officials.
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