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Public Still Backs Government Role in Health Care

Conservatives have been arguing strenuously that public uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act is connected to a deep-seated reaction against government involvement in health care. According to them, voters are waking up to the depth of government involvement in the health care system and are rejecting it.

Findings from the recently released American Values Survey conducted by Penn Schoen Berland for The Atlantic Monthly and the Aspen Institute indicate, however, that the public continues to embrace strong government involvement in the health care system. Take the question of whether the government should guarantee health care coverage: With the Affordable Care Act firmly in place, 69 percent of the public still endorses government responsibility for health care coverage, while 31 percent are opposed.

Figure 1

Even more intriguingly, when the public was asked whether the government should exert more influence over America’s health care system to bring down costs and provide health care coverage, 54 percent agreed, compared to 44 percent who endorsed the idea that government involvement should decrease and that the system should be more free-market oriented. So the public actually endorses more government involvement, even with the Affordable Care Act already in place.

Figure 2

Conservatives may think there’s a revolt against government involvement in health care, but these data suggest that if there actually is a revolt, it’s lacking one key ingredient: public support.

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.