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Public Opinion Snapshot: Universal Health Care Momentum Swells

More and More Americans Say: Time to Guarantee Health Care Coverage for All

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A CBS News/New York Times survey last month found that 90 percent believe the U.S. health care system needs either fundamental changes (54 percent) or a complete overhaul (36 percent). And the results of a November, 2005 Center for American Progress/Americans for Health Care poll similarly showed that 89 percent think that “with costs rising and the quality of health coverage declining, the health care system in our country is broken and we need to make fundamental changes.”

The public is clearly looking for big changes in the health care system. More and more Americans say that includes having the federal government guarantee health care coverage for all.

Consider the public’s response to the question, “Do you think the federal government should guarantee health insurance for all Americans, or isn’t this the responsibility of the federal government?”, first asked by CBS/NYT in 1996. The chart above shows that in 1996, 56 percent said guaranteeing health insurance should be a federal responsibility, and 38 percent disagreed. The latest reading in February of this year shows that almost two-thirds (64 percent) now say the federal government should provide this guarantee, and only 27 percent oppose such a guarantee.

Responses to Gallup’s question, “Do you think it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have health care coverage, or is that not the responsibility of the federal government?” also show increasing support for a federal role in guaranteeing health care coverage. When first asked by Gallup in 2000, a 59-38 majority endorsed a federal responsibility for health care coverage for all. But in their latest reading in November of last year, that majority had swelled to 69-28, their highest reading yet on the question.

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This is part of a regular column: Public Opinion Snapshot

For more from the same column, click here