Poll: Majority of Voters Favor Heath Care Reform Plan
Sixty-four percent of California registered voters support a health care reform plan backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles), according to a Field Poll released Thursday, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Zapler, San Jose Mercury News, 12/21).
Passed by the Assembly this week, the overhaul plan would extend health care coverage to 3.7 million of the 5.1 million California residents who are considered permanently uninsured.
Insurers would be required to provide coverage to all applicants, and residents who meet certain income levels would be eligible for tax credits to purchase insurance.
The plan would be funded through employer contributions, a hospital tax, a tobacco tax increase and an expansion of federal funds.
The Senate is next to consider the plan, though Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) has said that he will not hold a vote until the legislative analyst determines the plan's impact on the state's projected $14 billion deficit (California Healthline, 12/20).
The poll found favor for the plan among:
- 74% of Democrats;
- 52% of Republicans;
- 59% of independent voters (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 12/21); and
- 55% of all age groups.
At least 60% of male and female voters support the overhaul plan, as well as voters with a range of incomes.
Mark DiCamillo, director of Field Poll, said, "Majority support among every subgroup is very unique," adding, "I think there's a strong perception that something needs to be done, that the system is broken and it needs to be fixed" (Chorneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/21).
According to the poll, 63% of voters said they support a $2 increase to the state's tobacco tax to help finance health care reform. The governor and Núñez are considering a tax hike of $1.50 to $2 per pack.
The poll found that 23% of voters said they were strongly or somewhat opposed to the overhaul plan (San Jose Mercury News, 12/21).
The most common reasons given by respondents who opposed the plan were that it would:
- Expand government's role in the health care system;
- Require certain residents to obtain coverage; and
- Place a heavy financial burden on small businesses that cannot afford to provide coverage (Sacramento Bee, 12/21).
Summaries of an editorial and an opinion piece regarding health care reform efforts in California appear below.
- San Francisco Chronicle: "Why does [Perata] want to kill California's best shot to deliver health care to millions of uninsured people?" a Chronicle editorial states. "There is far too much at stake for this to crumble under the pressure of egos -- especially when a Republican governor is ready to make something happen, especially when there are more than five million Californians living without insurance," a number that "the Senate needs to be focused on right now," according to the editorial (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/20).
- Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee: A "poll that finds strong support for something at the conceptual level nearly a year before the actual election is one thing, and getting it actually passed on Election Day is something else," Walters writes in his Bee column. "Bottom line: Even with what appears to be strong voter support, this (health care reform) plan is a long way from becoming reality," according to Walters (Walters, Sacramento Bee, 12/21).
The Field Poll is available online (.pdf).
KPBS' "KPBS News" on Thursday reported on the debate over how to fund health care reform. The segment includes comments from Sen. Denise Ducheny (D-San Diego) (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 12/20).
A transcript and audio of the segment are available online.
KQED's "The California Report" also reported on proposals to fund health care reform. The segment includes comments from:
- Kim Belshé, secretary of the Health and Human Services Agency;
- Assembly Minority Whip Chuck DeVore (R-Orange County);
- Joel Fox, president of the Small Business Action Committee;
- Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines (R-Clovis); and
- A spokesperson for Philip Morris (Myers, "The California Report," KQED, 12/20).
Audio of the complete program is available online. 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.