A Closer Look At Polls on Health Care Reform

The polls on support for health care reform must be taken with a grain of salt. Most recent polls such as the Washington Post-ABC News poll show a fairly even split. Many people are expressing opposition to things which are not actually in the proposed legislation based upon the scare tactics of the right wing. Steve Benen notes that a recent CNN poll broke down reasons for opposing the legislation. This showed “one in 10 oppose the bill because it is not liberal enough.” Steve concluded:

Most of the time, it seems as if the conventional wisdom assumes critics of the reform plan are necessarily on the right. But the CNN poll helps prove otherwise — 46% support the reform bill, and another 10% would like it if it were more liberal.

Republicans tend to look at these evenly-split polls on health care and assume opponents of the bill are with the GOP. That’s clearly not the case.

The same poll, by the way, shows President Obama’s approval rating holding steady at 55%, and Democrats leading Republicans on the generic-ballot test by seven points.

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  1. 1
    Eclectic Radical says:

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. I tentatively supported HR 3200 and I tentatively supported the current House bill before the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. After Stupak-Pitts, I don’t support the current House bill as passed. I’ve made my dislike for the Senate Finance Committee bill well-known both here and on my own blog.
    I still support health care reform and I am still hopeful the reconciliation process will produce a bill I can support, but I can’t say I support the current bills we’ve got anymore.

  2. 2
    b-psycho says:

    I wish more polls had such breakdowns.  Too bad they didn’t ask how many oppose it because of the mandate…

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    One possible reason that many polls don’t get too much into the details is that the majority of people don’t understand them. They might have opinions for or against a bill but they don’t really understand the specifics.

    The mandate also doesn’t fit into how pollsters operate. It isn’t an issue which falls along partisan divides, with large numbers of politicians in both parties having supported mandates.

    It is also difficult to give an absolute yes or no on mandates. If simply asked about mandates my gut reaction on principle is no. On the other hand, as the costs of the uninsured are often shifted to government programs it is reasonable to have some sort of tax on the uninsured (provided they stick with an opt out mechanism for those who do not have any reasonable choices of affordable insurance). The Senate mandate as recently discussed  is so watered down that I can live with it. Unfortunately the benefits of  what I fear will come out of the Senate are also watered down making the overall bill of less value.

  4. 4
    Eclectic Radical says:

    I don’t like a mandate that forces people to buy private insurance. It smacks of corporate welfare to me and relying too much on ‘the market’ to solve a problem created by business in the first place. My ringside seat to mandated auto liabiliy insurance in  California gave me strong prejudices on the issues.
    On the other hand, I was willing to make a lot of compromises for a robust bill.
    Now I’m leaning back toward Communist hospitals. I wish there was a suitable emoticon for a sour smile.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    “I don’t like a mandate that forces people to buy private insurance.”

    If phrased in that way I agree. The reality of what is being proposed might be totally different. Would you object to a tax of under $700 per year for those not buying insurance which does not apply to those with low incomes and which does have a mechanism to opt out if there is no affordable plan being offered?

    In principle this sounds a lot less objectionable to me than thinking in terms of a mandate. (The details of exactly how high the tax is and who can get out based upon income or lack of availablity of affordable care could affect the ultimate decision).

  6. 6
    Eclectic Radical says:

    ‘Would you object to a tax of under $700 per year for those not buying insurance which does not apply to those with low incomes and which does have a mechanism to opt out if there is no affordable plan being offered?’
    I have less of a problem with the watered down mandate, but I am in agreement with you on the watered down bill.
    I am in favor of a dedicated tax on everyone that would completely replace health insurance premiums. That would certainly be a ‘mandate’ of its own kind and I recognize this.
    I actually have a problem with the words ‘opt out.’ If the point is to lower costs by increasing the number of people paying into the system, allowing opt outs fails to solve the free rider problem. We are left with circumstances very similar to what we have now, just more people covered.
    Now I recognize that more people covered is good, but it doesn’t totally get rid of the sour smile.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    No, the free rider problem will not be completely solved but we also need to have some provision for people who truly cannot afford the insurance or the tax. As with so much of health care reform, the details of how this is done is the hard part.

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