In recent polls, more of the public opposes than favors the health care reform bills in Congress. Conservatives would have you believe that the opposition plurality in these polls is a result of public distaste for a big government takeover of our health care system. Not so. In a December CNN poll, a total of 55 percent either favored the Senate health reform bill outright (42 percent) or opposed it at this point because its approach to health care isn’t liberal enough (13 percent). Just 39 percent said they opposed the bill because its approach to health care was too liberal.
Consistent with these findings, most polls continue to show strong support for key components of the health care reform bills—subsidizing people who can’t currently afford health insurance, preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, requiring mid- to large-size employers to provide health insurance for their workers, and so on—even if the bills themselves are not popular. Here are some examples from a November CNN poll showing 60 percent support or more for such reforms.
That doesn’t sound very conservative to me. And that’s why we’re likely to find, once the final health care reform bill passes and is signed into law, that conservative hopes of an anti-big government uprising against the legislation will be in vain. The public is just not on their wavelength. Again.
Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.