What we, the American people, think does matter to our elected officials.
This is especially true when it comes to our opinions about healthcare.
Most of us certainly remember President Clinton’s failed attempt at reform 16 years ago. His efforts ultimately faltered for two reasons:
The plan was developed without input from the public. It was an overly detailed initiative to overhaul healthcare from the top-down, which left it open to attack by critics.
Opponents were successful in mobilizing the public against the plan through the use of a negative ad campaign.
Remember “Harry and Louise!” The ads that successfully convinced Americans that they would not be able to make choices about their care under the new system. Be on the lookout for a new version this time around.
You can watch the ads here.
Update: This Politico blog post discusses the current ads being aired in swing states. It talks about how both proponents and opponents of reform are centering their efforts around the public option.
Once the shift in public opinion occurred, few legislators were willing to go against the grain and support the overhaul package. They knew that they would surely pay a price at the polls if they did.
The question now is whether President Obama can maintain public support for his reform package, even as opponents increase their attacks. Such support will be crucial for convincing “Blue Dog” Democrats and moderate Republicans to sign onto the legislation.
The outlook? So far, so good.
Several recent polls indicate that public support for healthcare reform remains high at this point.
A June 10th, 2009, Diageo Hotline Poll found that:
- 62% of voters surveyed support enacting a major overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system, with 38% of voters strongly supporting such an overhaul.
- Democrats and middle-income, middle-age folks were more likely to indicate support than were their Republican, high-income and elderly counterparts.
And it doesn’t hurt that the President continues to receive favorable ratings, since he is now leading the healthcare crusade. The poll found that:
67% of registered voters have a favorable opinion of Mr. Obama, and
- 65% approve of the way that he is handling his job as president.
We do realize that the phrase “a major overhaul” of the healthcare system is vague, and could mean different things to different people.
That’s why this New York Times/CBS News Poll is helpful, since it breaks down voter opinion about specific reform proposals.
- The poll found that most Americans (6 in 10) would be willing to pay higher taxes so that everyone could have health insurance, including themselves.
- 60% of those surveyed also said that the government could do a better job of holding down healthcare costs than the private sector.
- A majority of folks (48%) said they supported a mandate that all Americans have insurance, so long as subsidies are offered to those who cannot afford it.
And: 72% of respondents said that they were in favor of a government-administered insurance plan (similar to Medicare), while only 20% were opposed.
So voters favor a greater government role in health care, and may even be willing to pay a little bit more so that they and their neighbors can obtain health insurance.
Check back tomorrow to learn more about the financing measures, including tax increases and benefit cuts, being considered to pay for healthcare reform.