Political Parties Try To Shape Public Opinion On Health Care
The public opinion battle over health reform continues to heat up.
Politico: "Senate Democrats may not give final approval to their health care bill until Christmas Eve, but the parties have already moved on to the next fight: defining the measure in the minds of the public."
"The National Republican Senatorial Committee is salivating over polls that show vulnerable Democrats' numbers slipping amid the divisive health care debate. In the past 48 hours, the NRSC said it helped generate more than 68,000 e-mails targeting seven Democratic senators for their votes on the legislation, and it's begun dispatching robocalls and producing Web videos about some of the most vulnerable Democrats. ... But Democrats say they've got an opening now. With Monday's cloture vote behind them, supporters can focus less on winning over their colleagues and more on convincing voters that the bill is in their best interests. And because some of the most popular insurance reforms in it will take effect sooner than other parts of the bill, they think Republicans will have a hard time getting voters to line up against it" (Raju, 12/22).
Los Angeles Times: "A sour public mood may make matters tough for Democrats, whose comfortable congressional majority will be at risk. Recent polls have shown that voters are impatient with incumbents -- and that the economy is their overriding concern. ... In the face of such arguments, Democrats intend to stress that jobs and healthcare, which accounts for one-sixth of the economy, are inseparable. The bill will allow businesses that have been burdened by rising insurance costs, proponents say, to become more competitive in a global economy. In addition, party leaders hope to minimize concerns that many of the bill's provisions would not take effect until 2014. That is when, for example, a new health insurance marketplace would open, with the goal of making it easier for consumers to find policies."
"Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are compiling lists of 'immediate benefits' that would spring from passage of the bill, which still must emerge from the Senate and be reconciled with a version approved by the House. One would be the small-business tax credit aimed at helping employers pay for coverage. Another immediate 'deliverable' ... would ban denying coverage to children based on preexisting conditions. (Under the Senate bill, insurers would be barred in 2014 from denying coverage to adults based on preexisting conditions.) Also, insurance companies would be prohibited immediately from setting lifetime benefit caps. Under the Senate bill, insurers also could not rescind a policy because the beneficiary is filing claims. ... A new CNN poll showed that, though the public's view of the Senate bill was improving, about 56% of respondents still opposed it; 42% supported it" (Nicholas, 12/22).
The Associated Press reports on a survey that finds: "The public's views on health care have stayed largely steady this year. ... Overall, 82 percent say an overhaul of the nation's health care system is important for recharging the economy, according to an average of monthly polls conducted since April by the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The most recent survey, covering November, found that 77 percent agree with that connection. Personal concerns have remained fairly constant as well. About one in four people worry they might lose their health coverage in the next year, while almost half say they are concerned they might not be able to afford care for themselves or a relative. ... Support for the link between a health overhaul and the economy drops among whites and the better off. While 95 percent of minorities agreed with that connection, just 74 percent of whites said so. Among income groups, 85 percent of the lowest one-third of earners say a health overhaul is important for fixing the economy, compared to just 74 percent of the top third of earners" (Fram, 12/22).