By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Jennifer Agiesta
The Washington Post
September 26, 2010
A new AP poll finds that Americans who think the law should have done more outnumber those who think the government should stay out of health care by 2-to-1.
The poll found that about four in 10 adults think the new law did not go far enough to change the health care system, regardless of whether they support the law, oppose it or remain neutral. On the other side, about one in five say they oppose the law because they think the federal government should not be involved in health care at all.
2010 Health Care Reform Survey
By Stanford University with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Associated Press
HC1. In general, do you favor, oppose, or neither favor nor oppose the law changing the health care system that the U.S. Congress passed last March?
9% – Favor strongly
21% – Favor somewhat
30% – Neither favor nor oppose
17% – Oppose somewhat
23% – Oppose strongly
0% – Refused
(Ask if HC1 = oppose strongly, oppose somewhat or neither favor nor oppose):
HC1A. Which of the following best expresses your view of the health care law that Congress passed last March?
28% – I oppose most or all of the changes made by the law
20% – I oppose a few of the changes made by the law
23% – I favor most or all of the changes made by the law, but I think that law doesn’t do enough to improve the health care system
28% – I oppose the law because I think the federal government should not be involved in health care at all
1% – Refused
(Ask if HC1 = favor strongly, favor somewhat or neither favor nor oppose):
HC1B. Do you think that the health care law passed last March by Congress should have done more to change the health care system, or do you not think that?
61% – It should have done more
36% – Do not think that
3% – Refused
HC2. How much, if at all, should the health care system in the United States be CHANGED from what it was like in February, 2010, before Congress passed the law to change the system? Would you say it should be changed…
17% – A great deal
22% – A lot
35% – A moderate amount
16% – A little
9% – Not at all
1% – Refused
PR6a. Do you favor, oppose, or neither favor nor oppose a law that would require every American to have health insurance, or pay money to the government as a penalty if they do not, unless the person is very poor?
8% – Strongly favor
17% – Somewhat favor
25% – Neither favor not oppose
16% – Somewhat oppose
33% – Strongly oppose
8% – Refused
Poll results (32 pages):
By Don McCanne, MD
Twice as many Americans believe that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act should have done more to change the health care system than those who believe that the government should not be involved in health care at all, according to a release this weekend on the AP/Stanford/RWJ poll. Framed this way the statement would lead you to believe that the majority of Americans want more reform, when, according to this poll, only about two-fifths hold that view, whereas only one-fifth believe that the government should not be involved at all.
Another confusing result stems from the fact that those favoring reform and those opposing reform were asked two different questions (HC1A and HC1B), yet those neither favoring nor opposed were asked both questions. It would not be surprising to learn that those favoring reform would want to see more done, but it would have been helpful to know how many of those opposed were opposed because not near enough was done. The number probably would have been fairly small since only 23 percent of those opposed plus those neutral wanted more done.
There are some conclusions that we can draw from the poll that do seem to be valid:
* Nine-tenths of Americans agree that the health care system should be changed from what it was like before the legislation passed.
* Four-fifths favor “making sure that more Americans get the health care they need.”
* Four-fifths favor “reducing the amount of money that patients pay for health care.”
* Half are opposed and only one-fourth favor the individual mandate to either buy health insurance or pay a penalty – an essential element of a system based on private health plans.
* Those polled were split on their understanding of various measures that may or may not have been included in the legislation. Thus these are the opinions of a relatively uninformed electorate.
The reassuring findings in this poll are that Americans do support the goals of reform: 1) Americans should have the health care that they need, and 2) Health care should be affordable for patients.
The poll also shows that the public is not well informed on health policy, so we need to do a much better job in showing them how they can achieve the health care reform goals that they want by enacting an improved Medicare program that covers everyone.