PATIENT PROTECTIONS: Voters Favor Right to Sue
A slim majority of Americans favor the patients' bill of rights supported by the president and most Democratic members of Congress, according to a new Harris poll. But many also believe that the legislation would increase health care premiums and give employers more incentive to stop providing coverage, according to a new Harris Poll. Over half -- 56% -- of respondents believe that the right to sue would cause more employers to stop providing health insurance, while 45% think the bill would increase premiums significantly. The poll of 1,009 adults was conducted nationwide between September 17 and 21, and found that 53% of respondents favored making the right to sue HMOs easier. The poll has 95% statistical precision plus or minus 3 points.
In addition, respondents showed more trust in Democrats to support good patient protection policies compared to Republicans, 46% to 30%, respectively. Humphrey Taylor, Chair of the Harris Poll, said that if Congress does not resolve the patient protection issue, it will "remain a hot issue which could help the Democrats and harm the Republicans" in the upcoming presidential and congressional elections. The findings also show, however, that the insurance and business lobbies have developed arguments credible to the public, emphasizing that the right to sue will lead to premium increases and an increase in the uninsured. Taylor notes that the findings "suggest that the public has not 'come to judgement' on the issue" and that attitudes can be changed by the debate (Harris release, 9/29).