Field Poll Finds Californians Back Reform, Divided Over Funding
A new Field Health Policy Survey found that although 71% of California voters believe the U.S. health care system needs significant overhaul or restructuring, Democrats and Republicans disagree about how to pay for these reforms, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Democrats and Republicans also vary in their perceptions of the urgency for health reform. About 85% of Democrats and 69% of unaffiliated voters said health reform is now "more important than ever," while 56% of Republicans said the country currently cannot afford to overhaul the system.
Support for Reform Proposals
The survey found bipartisan support for numerous health reform proposals currently under consideration by the federal government. Of the total voters surveyed:
- 85% favor creating a public health insurance option to compete with private insurers;
- 81% favor requiring insurers to provide coverage regardless of health condition;
- 76% favor providing tax credits to middle-income people purchasing insurance on the open market;
- 74% favor expanding Medicare to cover uninsured people ages 55 to 64; and
- 69% favor requiring employers to provide health benefits or pay into a public insurance fund.
Disagreement on Funding Reform
Despite agreement among Democrats and Republicans about several reform proposals, members of the two parties disagree significantly about how to pay for health care overhaul. The differences included:
- Higher taxes: 66% of Democrats and 54% of Independents were willing to pay higher taxes to fund health reform, but 73% of Republicans oppose the idea.
- Repealing tax breaks: 68% of Democrats favor repealing former President George W. Bush's tax cuts for families with incomes greater than $250,000 per year, while only 35% of Republicans favor this measure.
- Value-added tax: 53% of Democrats said they would be willing to pay a national VAT, but 57% of Independents and 74% of Republicans oppose such a proposal (Marelius, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/18).
In addition, 70% of all respondents said they oppose a national mandate requiring all U.S. residents to maintain some level of insurance coverage or pay a penalty (Hecht, Sacramento Bee, 6/18).
Concerns About Health Care
The poll also found that most California voters had apprehensions about the current state of health care, with significantly more Democrats raising concerns than Republicans. Of the respondents:
- 84% are concerned about increased out-of-pocket health expenses;
- 79% are concerned about an inability to pay the costs of a major illness or injury;
- 78% are concerned about insurers denying coverage because of a health condition;
- 76% are concerned about employers reducing contributions to health coverage;
- 75% are concerned about becoming uninsured; and
- 71% are concerned about lack of access to quality health care.
The California Wellness Foundation provided funding for the poll, which was based on a telephone survey of 1,207 registered California voters conducted May 5-24 (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/18).
About 10% of the survey respondents said they were uninsured (Sacramento Bee, 6/18).
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/18).The complete survey is available on Field Poll's Web site (.pdf). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.