Field Poll Finds Growing Concern About Health Care in California
Most Californians are worried about the state's health care system, and nearly three-quarters of state voters said they would have approved Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) failed health reform plan, according to a new Field Poll survey released today, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Yi, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/28).
The survey outlined voters' key concerns over the state's health care system and found that:
- 59% of voters said they are very concerned about not being able to afford the costs associated with a major illness or injury, up from 48% of voters in a 2006 survey;
- 58% said they are very concerned about having to pay more out-of-pocket costs for health care, up from 40% in 2006;
- 57% said they are very concerned about not having or potentially losing their health care coverage, up from 48% in 2006; and
- 51% of voters said they are very concerned about not having access to quality physicians and health care services, up from 40% in 2006 (Stockton Record, 4/28).
In terms of improving the state health care system, 39% of respondents said they believe the system will be worse in five years, 38% said they think it will be about the same, 13% said they think it will be better, and 10% said they have no opinion.
The survey also found support for the major elements of compromise health care reform legislation negotiated by Gov. Schwarzenegger and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles). The Senate Health Committee rejected the bill in January.
According to the poll, 72% of respondents supported the overall plan. Looking at individual components of the proposal, the poll found that:
- 84% of respondents said they favored requiring health insurers to cover everyone, including patients with pre-existing conditions;
- 77% favored state-subsidized insurance for low-income adults;
- 73% said they supported requiring employers to contribute to the cost of health insurance benefits;
- 71% said they approved of raising the state tobacco tax by $1.75 per pack of cigarettes to help fund health care reform, but 77% said they opposed a provision to require hospitals to contribute a 4% fee to help fund the plan;
- 68% backed the idea of an individual mandate, under which all state residents would be required to purchase health insurance (Ainsworth, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/28); and
- 67% said they supported individuals, employers and the government sharing the cost of health insurance coverage.
However, two-thirds of respondents said they did not expect that the plan's funding mechanism would keep pace with the rising costs of health care.
Similarly, about the same percentage questioned whether new insurance policies for the uninsured would be affordable (Rodriguez, San Jose Mercury News, 4/28).
The Field Poll was based on a telephone survey of 1,202 registered California voters between March 12 and March 30. The survey was conducted in English and Spanish and is subject to a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
A grant from the California Wellness Foundation funded the poll (Stockton Record, 4/28).
This new poll indicates that Schwarzenegger's failure to enact health care reform "is leaving a bitter aftertaste in voters' mouths," Dan Walters writes in his Sacramento Bee column.
"But with the economy deteriorating, Californians are unlikely to be in the mood to create vast new programs and levy taxes that would pay for them," Walters writes.
He adds that "many of those involved in the health care debate will be waiting to see whether the next president takes on the health care issue," but "the moment has passed" for California (Walters, Sacramento Bee, 4/28).