Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What does health reform opposition look like?

It seems like hardly a day can go by without my seeing another poll saying that Americans are opposed to health reform. In my own everyday conversations, I don’t see quite that level of opposition. Are my family and friends out of the mainstream or is something else going on?

Whenever I see those polls, I always want to shout ”but why”? When people say that they oppose health reform, is it because the pending health reform bills do too much? Or do the bills do too little?

Well, I finally got my wish because, for the first time I’m aware of, a pollster finally asked the obvious follow-up question to those who say they oppose the bills. In an Ipsos/McClatchy poll conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs in late February, only 41 percent of respondents say they support the health reform proposals with 47 percent opposing them. On its face, that looks like just another health reform survey. Ho-hum.

But wait, there's more. The difference: This pollster asked the follow-up question. According to the survey, 54 percent of health reform opponents say they oppose the measures because they go too far and, somewhat surprisingly, 37 percent of opponents said they oppose the bills because they don’t go far enough to reform healthcare.

The follow-up completely changes the meaning of the survey. In effect, ignoring the undecideds, 66 percent (a super-majority, in fact) say that they favor the health reform bills being discussed or even stronger legislation (that is, at least this level of health reform) and only 34 percent oppose at least this level of health reform.

Now that sort of puts a whole different perspective on “health reform opposition,” doesn’t it?


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