Poll Shows Fractured Public Opinion; Dems Claim ‘Widespread’ Support For Health Bills
Public opinion remains divided on one of health reform's most controversial issues, the proposal to create a new government health insurance plan, according to poll this week by The Associated Press. And now the AP reports that the results can vary based on how the question is asked: "Tell Americans that letting the government sell insurance in competition with private industry would be cheaper for them, and a majority is in favor. Tell them the government would be making decisions about what medical care they could get, and support sinks." Politicians are taking note: "when Republicans talk about letting the government sell health coverage in competition with private carriers, they cast it as a government takeover that would destroy private industry. Democrats talk about choice, competition and 'keeping health insurance companies honest.'"
The AP adds: "Despite the controversy surrounding the public plan, it would affect a small number of people. ... The overwhelming majority of the population would remain in private health insurance plans sponsored by employers. Others, mainly low-income people, would be covered through an expanded Medicaid program" (Werner, 11/18).
The AP poll and another poll triggered statements from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that do not exactly match the polls' findings, USA Today reports. In separate press releases this week, Pelosi said the polls showed "widespread support" and that "Americans support" the reform bills. USA Today says: "The polls themselves show Americans are far less exuberant. The AP poll found that more people (43%) oppose the health care plans being discussed in Congress compared with 41% who support it. The Washington Post poll found similar results (49% opposed compared with 48% in support) as did a Gallup poll last week that we told you about here. The AP poll did find widespread support for changing the current health care system" (Fritze, 11/17).