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US: Health Care (USA Today/Gallup 3/26-28)

Topics: poll

USA Today / Gallup
3/26-28/10; 1,033 adults, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Gallup release)
More: Gallup, USA Today

National

As you may know, this past week Congress passed legislation that restructues the nation's health care system. All in all, do you think it is a good thing or a bad thing that Congress passed this legislation?
47% Good thing, 50% Bad thing (chart)

 

Comments
CUWriter:

Man that was some bounce. Gallup is exactly back to where it was... populace marginally against the now law. Of course, they had routinely found the divide much closer than many other pollsters, so this is nothing new. Just indicative that minds are made up on this and they're not going to change in the short to medium term.

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LordMike:

So, are we going to get a poll every week for 4 years?

Seriously... with people bouncing all over like this, what's the point of polling all the time... It's clear that no one knows what they really think about this issue and it changes by the day.

Of course, the Dems screwed up their bounce by highlighting the threats against them, instead of basking in the warm glow of victory. They've blown this twice, once last August, and now... stop highlighting the haters!

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LordMike:

Interesting to see that Medicare recipients have a higher level of support than expected... They probably appreciate how hard it is for the chronically ill to get real care.

I always knew that sick people were second class citizens in this society... I just never figured that people would be so willingly bigoted towards them. So, we have a new minority in this country... sick people... and they better watch out if they try to get uppity and ask for equal access to the American Dream like everyone else.

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Stillow:

pathetic. Dems have totally killed themselves. No bounce....no grand movement towards Obama. Just you wait Dems, all those who were kinda on the fence saying well maybe its ok....blah blah...just wait til there employer has to raise there premium now and lay off there co workers due to higher taxes. Support for this thing will drop to the low 30's and stay there. Only the kooky left will still like it while everyone else is demanding its repeal.

If layoffs and higer premiums don't kill the Dems, wait til someone who had no problem seeing a dr. before has to wait 12 weeks to see one in a few years.

All those high hopes and big claims you Dems made the past few months. Oh just wait til it passes, the numbers will go way up. Obama will be seen as a hero......don't you hate when reality gets in your way?

Nice bounce Dems....the public has really gotten behind you on this.

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jamesia:

Stillow, I don't really think it's fair to say Democrats screwed the pooch on this. A wide majority of people believe the government should make some action in the health insurance industry, while disputing what the action should be. That means the conservative opinion that the market would solve all is already not an option. Every poll that's been produced shows that a majority wants some kind of government interference.

Now that something is on the books, both parties can make amendments/tinker with it. Same as how Medicare and Social Security passed, and they're modified all the time. However, they both are popular now that they're understood, and will never go away.

The GOP is going to run on a "repeal & replace" motto, which is interesting because they're offering some kind of replacement government interference. But they'll get an Obama veto, and can't hope to get the 67 or so Senate votes for an over ride.

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hohoho:

This poll surveyed "All Adults" and includes the opinions of the undocumented as well as citizen non-voters.
Expect far more opposition in November -- when only the opinions of registered voters will matter....

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LordMike:

Ah, Stillow... making predictions based on talking points instead of facts. No taxes rise this year, and small business gets a tax break for health care coverage. Large businesses get a subsidy to cover older workers--this year...

If any business "lays off" people due to health care, they are lying. Their costs will go down THIS YEAR!

And Obama got a bounce... 5 points in the latest CNN poll... whoops!

Jamesia,

Free market solutions don't work 'cos the free market is skewed towards increasing costs for the sick and denying them access... which is why we have the problems we have today.... the free market is unsuitable for health care reform.

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Stillow:

LM - There are now dozens of comapny's on record saying they will have a net hit to there bottom lines....this will lead to layoffs. Because businesses do not pay taxes, we pay them in the form of higher and higher prices. also business is coming out now saying they will have to hike the cost of premiums its employees pay.

Now the Dems are staring early talks about the VAT tax. bring it on my liberal freinds...keep these taxes comin on everyone. A lot of HCR supporters were fence sitters who just said ok we'll give it a shot....many of them were totally happy with there insurance the way it was.

What the scotus does not throw out as unconstitutional, the GOP will repal with its new majorities in 2010 and 2012...and perhaps then we can actually get some real reform.

This thing only has Dem fingerprints, so even the slgihtest glitch and the people will know exactly who to blame. combined with a trillion dollar deficits projected for the next several years....about to lsoe our AAA credit status.

Plus neat little things like the auto enrollment in long term care which each american will be auto enrolled in costing them money in there paychecks, I beleive the average is $150 a month per american.....oh and that is just the start of it.

Its rainin fire and Dems are trapped outside!

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Field Marshal:

Exactly Stillow. To say that AT&T isn't going to layoff someone, or at least not rehire some employees after taking a ONE BILLION charge last week, you have to be in LaLa Land.

The anger against the bill hasn't even started in my opinion once people realize the junk they have to pay, that HSA are likely going to be marginalized and reduced, and how fast premiums are going to rise.

Good luck in November. I'm starting to think 8 seats in the senate isnt out of the realm.

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LordMike:

The only people talking about a VAT tax are republicans... Democrats tax the rich--the ones who should be taxed. It's republicans that like taxing the middle class 'cos it makes them mad at government.

As for AT&T, they were being given millions of dollars in government welfare... taxpayer subsidies for retiree healthcare. Not even a tax credit, but actual CASH FROM THE GOVERNMENT to keep people off of medicare Part D.

You think that conservatives would be outraged that taxpayer dollars were spent to a private corporation increasing the deficit. I would think that a true conservative would cut such a subsidy as a first priority... but, instead there is outrage from the conservative side 'cos Obama reduced spending? The spin is incredible...

AT&T is being political... They have a heavily unionized workforce and are using this announcement (which was premature) as a club in negotiations and as a way to get back at Obama. They did some pretty shady accounting to classify future payments as an asset and now they are paying the price. Did they think the subsidy would go on forever? Apparently, they did, since the accounted that way.

The charge is one time... and the reason why it's so big is because they are accounting for the entire lifetime of their retirees. In actuality, their subsidy only goes down a couple hundred dollars a year per retiree, but the charge has to depreciate their "asset" over a lifetime.

It's nice manipulation, but it's meaningless overall... I've looked up other major manufacturers with large retirees that they service, and most have not announced any charges--they didn't manipulate their accounting like AT&T did.

"What the scotus does not throw out as unconstitutional, the GOP will repal with its new majorities in 2010 and 2012...and perhaps then we can actually get some real reform."

What "real" reform? I doubt you mean single payer, which is the best way to reduce costs. I'm guessing you mean throwing the sick out into the veal pens with the "high risk pools"? Might as well put them in a leper colony... apparently, that's what the GOP thinks of the sick. Deregulate the insurance companies so that they deny each and every claim people make? Sure, that's real reform... make the sick pay more... I guess sick people are the new minority for republicans to beat up on...

Anyways, enjoy your celebration beating up on the sick and vulnerable... I'm sure you are happy rooting for the country to fail and blaming the weakest members of our society for it--it's what Republicans are best at. But, the game's not over, and I wouldn't be celebrating the touchdown on the twenty yard line just yet...

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Field Marshal:

"It's republicans that like taxing the middle class 'cos it makes them mad at government."

Name one republicans that has taxed the middle class over the rich in the last 50 years. I'll help you. There aren't any. Thus, you are completely wrong. Its the Dems who like to tax EVERYBODY while the reps like to cut taxes for EVERYONE including the rich.

To say only the rich should pay taxes is ridiculous and shows your wealth envy.

Second, AT&T and the other companies like CAT and Deere are not being political at all. That's simply what you see through your ideological lenses. Fact is, they are REQUIRED BY LAW to report material changes to their P&L including extraordinary charge-offs. Has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the fact that all of them are going to have to write-off a large amount of expenses thanks to the garbage HCR bill.

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Andrew:

If the bill drives up costs as Stillow and Field Marshal predict, I'm wondering how obvious it will be. Everyone already thinks costs are going up too fast. Will it be obvious that this new reform is to blame? I think that will be the more interesting question.

I expected more of a bump in favor of the bill as people heard more details. I would think Dems must be fairly disappointed. Still, I don't think the mixed reaction is negative enough to drive the Dems out of power yet. My understanding is the GOP has struggled to get money together, and present a cogent alternative vision. Unless something drastic happens, I think the Dems will keep a slim majority this fall.

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GARY WAGNER:

LordMike - the pompous attitude that you and Obama have are helping drive down the support.

When you say things like, "If any business "lays off" people due to health care, they are lying. Their costs will go down THIS YEAR!"

That's a lie. My brother's employer manufacturers artificial joints for the medical market. They are getting slammed with $160 million in new taxes because of this, $50 million in increased healthcare premium costs, and do not have the profit margin to be able to absorb those costs because of the pressure chinese companies are putting on the artificial joint market. They either go out of business and grandma's artificial hip will be stamped, "Made in China" or they will have to lay people off. They are talking about 800 - 1200 layoffs because of Obamacare.

This is real and people are already being hurt. There will be 7 more months of announcements of layoffs and price increases before the election. We'll see how arrogant the dems are come November.

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Field Marshal:

Andrew,

You can bet that reputable journalists will report any increases in insurance premiums between now and 2012 similar to what has been reported on in Massachusetts.

RomneyCare is nearly a hundred billion in the hole and is directly responsible for health insurance premiums rising nearly 10% per year since inception, a steep increase from before the bill was passed.

The risk is that the 2010 elections may come a little too soon for the bulk of the premiums to take effect and for most people to see it come out of their paychecks.

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GARY WAGNER:

$14 billion is added employer costs this year alone. The Business Roundtable reminded Henry Waxman and Obama that they warned them - three times - in writing that Obamacare would raise employer costs by $2800 per employee if they included their tax on employers who provide their retirees prescription coverage. Now that they are announcing their Obamacare costs, Waxman is threatening to bring them before a hearing in congress and reveal all of their confidential financial records if they don't stop reporting how much Obamacare is costing them.

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Andrew:

GARY,

When you say "their tax on employers who provide their retirees prescription coverage", are you referring to the subsidy that is no longer tax deductible? To call that a tax seems like a bit of a stretch. I'm sure many employers will miss the free money, so I'm not at all surprised by their dire warnings of impending doom. Call me skeptical.

Let me be clear: I do expect it to hurt. I just don't expect it to hurt as much as employers initially claim, nor do I think the change necessarily isn't worth doing even if it does hurt that much.

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mirrorball:

I want what America is smoking, based on this poll (assuming this is the same poll)

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-03-29-health-poll_N.htm

65% say the bill expands government's role too much. But more than 50% want a public option and more regulation of industry.

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Andrew:

Field Marshall,

If I understand the Dems counter-argument correctly, various elements have been added to the national plan to prevent the burgeoning premiums occurring with the Mass. plan. I'm struggling to find a thorough explanation of these. Does anyone have a reference that lays this out more clearly?

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Field Marshal:

Andrew,

Don't know which employers are talking about impending doom but the companies you see in the news taking the charges because of the HCR bill are required to by law.

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Andrew:

Field Marshal,

The impending doom:

"An association representing 300 large corporations urged President Obama and Congress on Monday to repeal a provision of the health care overhaul that prompted AT&T, Caterpillar and other companies to announce substantial charges for the current quarter.

"The association, the American Benefits Council, said the provision — which reduces the tax deductions for companies with drug coverage for their retired employees — would deal a significant blow to corporate profits and would discourage companies from hiring more workers."
(NYT, "Companies Push to Repeal Provision of Health Law", 3/29/10)

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Field Marshal:

I see. Well, i see nothing wrong with that assumption since reduced profits will most likely retard job growth or shift jobs overseas.

The only provision i see in the bill or have heard is a council that will have the ability to strike down certain "egregious" premium increases by insurance companies. However, as many as 30 states already have some sort of similar provision.

Here is an article posted yesterday.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hLAMW_KTqY_JVMQF-gNn3O0_uUcQD9EOIBQO0

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mirrorball:

But they weren't reporting or warning of lower profits. Just knocking down asset value since they can no longer get a tax break for their government-funded insurance subsidies. Yes, technically these one-time charges count against earnings. But they are also non-cash charges, meaning no extra money was actually spent. It's all an accounting game.

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mirrorball:

Need to clarify my original point. Yes, these companies are warning of lower profits this quarter. But it's all an accounting gimmick.

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Andrew:

Field,
I think it far more likely that the companies would just stop offering prescription coverage to their retirees, rather than freeze hiring, don't you? After all, that's what the subsidy encourages in the first place.

That was an interesting article. Thank you.

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Field Marshal:

mirror,

You are correct that it is a non-cash charge now, but going forward, it will certainly be a cash charge.

The subsidy, which was ridiculous in the first place, basically allowed companies to reduce their tax liability by the full amount of the retiree benefits. For example, for the sake of argument, say the retiree was getting $1000 in health expenses and the government was paying $250 of it. Basically, the company was able to deduct the full $1000 previously whereas now they can only deduct $750. The $250 times their tax rate (35%) is added to their deferred tax liability which will certainly have to be pain in the future with cash.

To some up, pension costs went up.

Andrew,

Companies may not have a choice. Many of these companies are unionized and are forced by labor contract to provide those benefits. Its hard to predict accurately the fallout from the removal of the subsidy. This is why i think the government should not be giving out subsidies in the first place unless to the very poor to buy food or health insurance.

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GARY WAGNER:

Andrew what is the difference between eliminating a deduction and raising taxes. Both of them make taxes go up.

Clinton screwed us that way in his tax bill. You used to be able to deduct all medical expenses. Then he changed it to where you can only deduct those above 7.5% of your income. Obamacare raises that to 10% of your income.

My taxes are going up next year because I always have enough medical expenses to qualify for a partial deduction but Obamacare doesn't count a reduction in a deduction as a tax increase but what else do you call it when his bill makes me pay more taxes?

It doesn't matter what this tax deduction was for subsidy or not, the bottom line is companies have to pay $14 billion more per year in taxes this year because of Obamacare and democrats are crazy mad that the companies are reporting it.

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