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US: Congress, Health Care (CNN 12/2-3)


CNN / Opinion Research Corporation
12/2-3/09; 1,041 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CNN release)

National

Do you think the country would be better off if the Republicans controlled Congress, or if the Democrats controlled Congress?
40% Democrats, 39% Republicans

As you may know, the U.S. Senate is considering a bill that would make major changes in the country's health care system. Based on what you have read or heard about that bill, do you generally favor it or generally oppose it?
36% Favor, 61% Oppose (chart)

From what you know about the Senate health care bill, which of the following statements comes closes to your view?
22% Those proposals would help you and your family if they became law
46% Those proposals would help other families in this country, but would not help you and your family
29% Those proposals would not help anyone in the country

Who do you trust more to handle major changes in the country's health care system -- the Democrats in Congress or the Republicans in Congress? 43% Democrats, 40% Republicans

Now thinking specifically about the health insurance plans available to most Americans, would you
favor or oppose creating a public health insurance option administered by the federal government
that would compete with plans offered by private health insurance companies?

53% Favor, 46% Oppose

If a bill similar to the one that the Senate is considering becomes law, do you think the federal budget deficit would or would not increase?
79% Would happen, 19% Would not happen

If a bill similar to the one that the Senate is considering becomes law, do you think your taxes would or would not increase?
85% Would happen, 14% Would not happen

 

Comments
Aaron_in_TX:

Again, a large gap between topline health care numbers and the public option. As FM said in the previous thread, these polls never specify the reason for the opposition. We can conclude that it's not the public option for a majority of people, since it does almost 20 points better than the topline.

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Xenobion:

It would be interesting to poll the current system with questions supporting only minor changes. Have these polls include people who don't have insurance. Include likely voters.

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Farleftandproud:

Not too much to chear about this Christmas and it is truly sad just how impatient the electorate of this country really is. Even if the GOP does win a lot of seats back in 2010, people will vote for them in protest, because they may choose to believe the smears instead of the truth.

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CUWriter:

Pretty sure these polls don't discriminate based on who has insurance and who doesn't Reasonable to assume the polling respondents match up with the majority of the populace; 84% or so have insurance and the rest do not. Trying to break out a cross tab on respondents who do not have insurance would be tough because of the sample size.

Aaron: Public option has been losing steam over time, but it's not the dealbreaker everyone thinks it is. It's more or less 50/50 (based on other polls incl. those that ask first, note response and then describe and note new response). What's killing support is the price tag.

79% see the deficit rising and 85% see taxes going up. At the same time, 75% think the bill won't help their own families. So given that, it's surprising that there isn't MORE opposition. Clearly there is a decent segment out there willing to pay more and borrow more to help others even if they think they won't be helped with this bill.

At the same time, Dems have to be really, really worried about this and GOP have to be heartened by these recent numbers. As a conservative, I can't see these numbers being any more favorable to "our side" than they are now. GOP senators should stop trying to force Dems to take "hard votes" to gin up more opposition and instead force them to vote on the thing now so they can't broker a deal.

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Xenobion:

Sadly CU bipart is dead. There is fundamental differences that I believe hard line Republicans to not join in. Not that I blame them, but the debate is so contentious its political suicide for many of them.

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Farleftandproud:

For those scepticle about Obama and the wrong direction he may lead this country. I mean for the Democrats, progressives and those who supported Obama, you need to share these numbers with sceptics about the state our country was in a year and a half ago.

Pollster Dates N/Pop Approve Disapprove Undecided
Quinnipiac 11/6 2210 RV 23 71 5
FOX 10/28-29/08 936 LV 29 67 4
CBS/Times 10/25-2699 LV 22 70 8
Pew 10/23-26/08 1198LV 22 70 8
Newsweek 10/22-23/08 LV 23 67 10
CBS/Times 10/19-22/08LV 22 72 6
FOX 10/20-21/08 936 LV 28 66 5
NBC/WSJ 10/17-20/08 RV 27 66 7
AP-GfK 10/16-20/08 800 26 72 -
CNN 10/17-19/08 746 LV 27 72 1
CBS/Times 10/10-13/08 24 66 10
FOX 7/22-23/08 900 RV 27 66 7

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CUWriter:

I think that a more incremental approach to health care would have earned a broad majority in Congress. The left would have grumbled and the right would have pounded their chests, but at the end of the day a more incremental approach would have been a big win for the Dems.

Throwing a bone to the right on tort reform could have lessened some of the opposition and then much the left wanted to do with tighter regulations would have worked.

But the biggest problem here was that Dems tried to push something through with a big price tag right after massive bailouts and a huge stimulus and more news about the exploding deficit and national debt. "Don't waste a crisis" is still correct, but the Dems should have focused their energies on making the government even more a central part of the economy through massive infrastructure projects and a jobs initiative.

I'm not going to pretend I'm glad they went on this suicide march, because they would have succeeded with a "historic" economic package and probably gotten an incremental health care bill as well.

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Aaron_in_TX:

There seems to be a congressional reality with health care and the public's reality. The two are very different.

The way the congress talks about the public option, you'd think it were either the end of all things or golden nuggett, and it's only supported by maybe 45% of the congress, tops. The public seems to support at above a 50% level based on most polls, sometimes significantly more.

Congress probably should have split the bill up into segments and voted on each seperately: 1)elimination of discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. That's the easiest part and the one people most agree on. 2) Cuts on inefficiencies in medicare. 3) public option/exchanges. I would have left out the business about making everyone get health insurance. Seperately, the parts of the bill would probably be easier to pass. Together, everyone can find a different reason to oppose it.

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Aaron_in_TX:

"tried to push something through with a big price tag right after massive bailouts and a huge stimulus "

I think that the price tag would have been similar had it been incremental, although I agree that it wouldn't have been a massive number at one time to freak people out. I also don't know what the democrats' intrasigence on tort reform is. It's already in effect in 22 states. Not a big deal. I'm not sure republicans would have supported any one of the segments in significant numbers, but Snowe & Collins could have come along much easier. Many of the republicans are philosophically opposed to reform on several levels.

I also think an under-utilized argument was the one Obama mentioned about the health care problem correlating to the deficit problem. If no action is taken, medicare and medicaid will swallow 80% of the budget in two decades. Something has to be done based on that alone, but forward thinking is difficult for congressmen focused on 2-4 years ahead.

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CUWriter:

Well speaking as a pretty far right conservative, I'm not opposed to reform. But I am opposed to reform that includes more government. I'm no fan of the status quo. I'm incensed that I have to just go along with whatever health care plan and provider my employer wants or pay for a much more expensive plan on the outside market with after-taxes pay. Why health insurance is coupled with employment I'll never understand.

And I personally hate health insurance companies. But it's not because they're greedy, it's because they're bureaucratic nightmares and have zero incentive to fix their problems because they have no competitors. What we should be doing is lifting the tight regulations that create insurance monopolies and oligopolies in every state.

Tort reform isn't a silver bullet, but perhaps it can ease some of the minds of the docs out there and eventually get rid of overly defensive medicine practices. And, of course, costs need to be upfront. I don't see how Congress can address this, but the AMA needs to be pressured to make this a reality. People need to be able to make cost/benefit decisions and the way insurance is set up right now, they simply cannot. They just go to the doctor, do whatever tests he says, take whatever pills he says and let the third party payer system "work." Then they wonder why their deductibles leap and premiums rise as well.

That's the kind of patient-centric reform that can bring prices down and stop overloading our health care system. Adding more people to the Medicare/Medicaid rolls or giving more people insurance is only going to make the problem worse. The problem isn't insurance access, it's cost and access to care in general. There are a limited number of doctors, hospitals and high tech machines and a virtually unlimited demand.

Basic economics of supply and demand; that's what makes costs high, not insurance company "greed."

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Field Marshal:

Amen Cu. Amen.

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Xenobion:

Health Care is run like a cartel which is perhaps the most anti-capitalist, capitalist structure next to a monopoly. Prices ARE fixed in the current system through pricing structures and plans that just simply don't compete with each other. A PPO vs. an HMO, offered by 2 different companies will end up being most people's current private health care choice. They are two different products really yet are sold as a competing choice. There is no financial incentive for them to administer more healthcare providing when marginal utility meets marginal cost of a premium in a monopolistic-like structure. If healthcare was really capitalist, we'd see ads been run to choose one provider vs. another like car insurance. Its a sham for people to think the current system works when consumers have no choice. Consumers have no bargaining power typically w/ their employer to choose a provider other than the say 2 that they have.

Having the government offer a plan? Were only here now in this debate because of how bad the private sector was able to listen to consumers on this issue when they have no financial gain to get from it. Race to the bottom folks.

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RAG2:

@ CUWriter & Aaron_in_TX:

The problem with incremental reform is that not all of the increments necessary for fixing the system will get passed, the overall costs over time will be about the same, it'll take much longer to cover nearly everybody (even the comprehensive House bill takes 10 years to reduce the uninsured from 15% to 4%!), and there could be perverse effects that make the system worse in the meantime between increments.

To put this more concretely: Suppose we simply require private insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions and not to drop coverage for people when they get sick or injured. The insurance companies, wanting to maintain their profit margins amid having to cover all these high-risk people, are going to raise everybody's premiums. This could result in health insurance becoming more unaffordable for more people, INCREASING the ranks of the uninsured.

That means that 5 or 10 years later, subsidies will have to be issued to help out a lot of people who can't afford health care yet are too rich for Medicaid--which amounts to big costs for the government, just like in the current bills. Or, in order to motivate private insurers to lower their premiums and adopt more generous policies, a public option like the one in the House bill will have to be issued.

And there'll be other things that'll have to be done. We'll probably still wind up doing all the things currently discussed in Congress for a single bil now--only it'll take a decade longer (and 20 years rather than 10 to insure nearly everybody)--which means a lot more suffering from people being uninsured or underinsured. And if most people are happy with their private health care now, they won't be in 5 or 10 years, when the existing fragmented "system" collapses.

WOULDN'T YOU RATHER NIP THE COLLAPSE OF OUR BROKEN SYSTEM IN THE BUD QUICKLY THAN WAIT FOR EVERYTHING TO FALL APART?!

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RAG2:

PS. One of the reason that, even with a semi-incremental approach, SEVERAL reforms have to take place at once is because the Congressional Budget Office will rate every bill for its effect on the deficit and the ranks of the uninsured. What's the odds that even a small bill will pass if the CBO says it'll add to the deficit and not cover very many people--even if more reform to improve that is promised?

Now you see why so much has to be do at once; no simple

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RAG2:

PPS. Now you see why so much has to be done at once; THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SIMPLE FIX FOR A COMPLEX PROBLEM WITH NUMEROUS ASPECTS! You can't significantly and simultaneously expand coverage, bring down health-care costs, reduce the deficit, keep premiums in check, and keep middle-class taxes low with a bill

When it comes to our health-care problems, the medicine will be bitter and painful no matter what, but the disease, if left untreated for very long, is fatal. PERIOD.

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RAG2:

ERRATA.

"You can't significantly and simultaneously expand coverage, bring down health-care costs, reduce the deficit, keep premiums in check, and keep middle-class taxes low with a bill" should be

"You can't significantly and simultaneously expand coverage, bring down health-care costs, reduce the deficit, keep premiums in check, and keep middle-class taxes low with a bill LESS THAN 1,000 PAGES LONG."

I forgot that you can't use the "less than" symbol here.

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