Majority of Texans Favor Universal Health Care, Survey Finds
A majority of Texans favor providing health care coverage for all Americans through a universal federal system, according to a University of Houston poll, the Houston Chronicle reports. The university's Center for Public Policy conducted the poll, which questioned 1,007 adults in a telephone survey between June 20 and June 29 on a variety of health care issues. According to the survey, 52% of Texans favored universal coverage and 43% opposed the plan. Sixty-four percent of Hispanics, 54% of blacks and 49% of whites surveyed said they supported universal coverage. Richard Murray, director of the university's public policy center and survey coordinator, said, "I wouldn't have expected that outcome in a conservative state known for a fend-for-yourself, don't-rely-on-government attitude." He added, "I think [the results are] rooted in an increasing knowledge of just how severe insurance problems are in Texas, particularly among Hispanics, who are less likely to have insurance." The survey also found "strong majorities" of Texans favor requiring businesses to provide insurance, providing income tax deductions for health care costs, using tax credits to help the uninsured purchase coverage, expanding Medicaid and CHIP coverage and expanding neighborhood clinics (Ackerman, Houston Chronicle, 7/13). The survey also questioned respondents about their health coverage and found that 77% of Texans are insured, compared to 82% of people nationwide. The survey found a racial "gap" in coverage; only 57% of Texas Hispanics are insured, compared to 88% of whites and 77% of blacks.
Citing the variety of options respondents suggested to improve health insurance coverage rates, Dr. Mary Anne Bobinski, director of the University of Houston Law Center's Health Law and Policy Institute, said the survey indicates that people are "crying out for reform, regardless of the details."
But it will be difficult to enact changes because so many people "demand different things," Bobinski said. For example, insured workers want lower premiums, low-income parents favor expanding coverage for children and seniors want Medicare benefits enhanced. In addition, changes to the system are hampered by federal, state and local governments, all of which have some jurisdiction in health care, Bobinski said. "The state doesn't have the regulatory authority to fix all the problems, the federal government's attention is split between [Medicare and Medicaid] and local governments are out in the cold on the whole process," she added (Babineck, AP/Dallas Morning News, 7/14).