Poll: More California Voters Displeased With Health Care System
Sixty-nine percent of California voters are dissatisfied with the state's health care system, while 58% of voters are doubtful that health care reform legislation will be passed this year, according to a Field Poll released Tuesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Moreover, the percentage of voters who say they are "very dissatisfied" with the system has more than doubled since December 2006 when Field Poll last surveyed voters on health care reform, Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo noted (Chorneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/22). The poll found that 50% of Democratic voters are "very dissatisfied" with the health care system, along with 34% of Republicans and 37% of independents (Hecht, Sacramento Bee, 8/22).
For the most recent poll, researchers randomly surveyed 536 registered voters statewide between Aug. 3 and Aug. 12. The findings have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points (Zapler, San Jose Mercury News, 8/22).
The poll found that 28% of voters are content with the current system, down from 51% of voters in the December Field Poll.
Nonetheless, only 36% of respondents said they expect lawmakers to enact meaningful health care overhaul legislation this year.
DiCamillo said the poll finds that there is "no consensus" among voters on how to reform the health care system, despite increased backing for a single-payer system and a drop in support for more market-oriented approaches.
According to the poll, 36% of voters support a single-payer health care system in California, up from 24% in the December poll. Support for a single-payer system is strongest among Democratic voters at 47%, compared to 39% of Independents and 19% of Republican respondents.
Legislation (SB 840) by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) would establish a state-run, single-payer health insurance system in California. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) vetoed a version of the bill last year and remains opposed to single-payer health care.
Meanwhile, support for a health care system that spreads the costs among employers, the state and consumers has dropped from 52% in December to 33% in the new poll.
Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislative leaders have offered proposals that seek to distribute the costs of expanded health insurance coverage.
According to the poll, 14% of voters support free-market competition to improve the health care system (Sacramento Bee, 8/22).
Without linking reforms to the health care system with reforms to health care delivery, the overhaul proposals offered by Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers "are likely to lead to continued escalation of costs that will place the state in a real bind," Stephen Shortell -- Blue Cross of California Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Management and dean at the School of Public Health at UC-Berkeley -- writes in a Bee opinion piece.
"By creating cost and quality incentives for consumers to choose higher-performing providers and for providers to be rewarded based on achieving results, physicians and hospitals will have ongoing incentives to provide the best possible care at the lowest possible cost," according to Shortell.
He concludes, "In this way, we can increase the likelihood that expanded health insurance coverage for all Californians can be sustained over time while continuously improving the delivery of care" (Shortell, Sacramento Bee, 8/22).