By SCOTT RASMUSSEN
For all the back and forth about the “public option,” Congressional Budget Office estimates and proposed tax hikes, the fundamentals are really what make health-care reform a hard sell to American voters. As members of Congress head home for the August recess, they should take a close look at some poll numbers before they attempt to pass any new legislation.
The most important fundamental is that 68% of American voters have health-insurance coverage they rate good or excellent. That number comes from polling conducted this past weekend of 1,000 likely voters. Most of these voters approach the health-care reform debate fearing that they have more to lose than to gain.
Adding to President Barack Obama’s challenge as he sells health-care reform to the public is the fact that most voters are skeptical about the government’s ability to do anything well. While the president says his plan will reduce costs, 53% believe it will have the opposite effect.
There’s also the reality that 74% of voters rate the quality of care they now receive as good or excellent. And 50% fear that if Congress passes health-care reform, it will lead to a decline in the quality of that care.
Advocates of health-care reform on Capitol Hill are up against something bigger than voters’ reactions to a variety of specific proposals. Our polling in February found that by a 2-1 margin, voters believe that no matter how bad things are Congress can always make matters worse. That’s one reason 78% believe passage of the current congressional health-care proposals is likely to mean higher taxes for the middle class.
However, there are some numbers congressional Democrats can celebrate. Specifically, 63% of voters agreed with the president earlier this year when he said, “We must make it a priority to give every single American quality affordable health care.” Yet while they agree in theory, only 28% are currently willing to pay higher taxes to achieve that goal.