WASHINGTON (CNN) - Americans are split right down the middle over President Barack Obama's health care reform proposals, according to a new national poll.
But the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey indicates that a majority say it would be better to pass some sort of reform legislation than to leave the current health care system unchanged. And the poll, released Wednesday, is the second national survey this week to suggest growing support for the public option.
Forty-nine percent of people questioned in the poll say they favor the president's health care reform proposals, with an equal amount in opposition.
According to the survey, 61 percent favor a public health insurance option that would compete with private plans. That's a six-point increase in support since August.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll joins an ABC/Washington Post survey released Tuesday in indicating an increase in support for a government option.
But the poll suggests a generational divide.
"The most skeptical demographic group is senior citizens. Most of them voted for John McCain in 2008, so the White House probably knew in advance that this group would be a tough sell," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
More than half the people questioned, 53 percent, say it would be better for the country if Congress passed a reform bill, with 44 percent feeling that things would be better if the current health care system was left in place with no changes.
The poll suggests that while Americans are split over the president's health care proposals, they trust Obama by 16 points more than Congressional Republicans on the issue.
The survey's release comes as Senate Democratic leadership is working on merging the reform bills that passed through committees into one piece of legislation. Similar action is taking place in the House. Top White House offiicials are engaged in the negotiations.
"Support for Obama's health care plan is roughly the same as support for Bill Clinton's plan in early 1994. But there is one major difference - Bill Clinton did not get a bill out of the Senate Finance Committee," adds Holland.
How does the president fare in the latest CNN/ORC poll? CNN Radio reports
–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report