While half of Americans want some kind of health reform in the next two years, nearly 40 percent say it would be a good thing if the legislation proposed by the Democrats and President Barack Obama never materializes. And one-quarter aren't sure if health reform would be good or bad for the country, a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll finds.
"Essentially what they're saying is we want reform but we don't trust or like what we're seeing now," says Humphrey Taylor, chairman of the Harris Poll, a service of Harris Interactive.
While reforming health care is still important for many Americans, the most pressing issue is fixing the troubled economy, the poll found:
- When asked to pick two top priorities for the President and Congress, about 8 out of 10 of respondents, regardless of their political persuasion, picked reducing unemployment and creating new jobs as a top priority over the next few months.
- Among Democrats, health reform came next (59 percent), while among Republicans preventing a terrorist attack in the United States (64 percent) took second place.
- The Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll, conducted online Feb. 3-5, included a national cross-section of 2,075 adults 18 and older.
- Respondents represented all three major political affiliations: Democrats (35 percent), Republicans (27 percent) and Independents (28 percent).
John C. Goodman, President, CEO and the Kellye Wright Fellow of the National Center for Policy Analysis, which supports free market health care solutions, says the poll findings suggest that Americans have lost confidence in Congress and the White House.
When half of the public thinks no major reform is not a bad thing, "that's because they've been soured on this," says Goodman, asserting that much of the focus on health care reform has been on its more painful aspects, such as how to pay for it, whose taxes to raise and what benefits to cut, rather than what people would gain from it.
"Eighty percent or more of people who have health insurance like the plan they're in, and when they read about the government dithering with their plan, they get apprehensive," he says.
Source: Karen Pallarito, "Poll Shows Eroding Support for Health Reform; Americans split on need to press ahead or wait; job creation is public's top priority," BusinessWeek, February 11, 2010.
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