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Poll: Voters Reject Obama's Healthcare Reforms

Thursday, 16 Jul 2009 08:02 PM

By David A. Patten

The year's biggest survey on healthcare reveals most Americans oppose the very reforms that President Obama is trying to push through Congress.

By 52 percent to 40 percent, voters say they are against the healthcare bill introduced July 14 to the House of Representatives, a new Zogby International poll reports.

Co-sponsored by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, the survey is based on interviews with nearly 4,000 adults nationwide – the largest such survey conducted this year.

The poll's findings: Americans oppose raising tax rates to pay for a new healthcare system. Instead, they favor innovative approaches that would save money, which in turn could be used to fund health benefits for the poor.

Among those currently insured, Zogby reports, 84 percent are satisfied with their current health care. Also, four out of every five people surveyed agreed that rising healthcare costs are hurting American businesses.

Pollster John Zogby says the results indicate that Americans want costs reduced and wish for everyone to be insured. But they are deeply divided on how to accomplish those goals.

"The likelihood of achieving consensus is low," Zogby says.

One of the concerns: the estimated $1 trillion cost over the next decade of expanding health care coverage.

Democrats propose defraying that cost in part by increasing income taxes on individuals making over $280,000, and on families that earn more than $350,000. The House legislation also proposes a penalty equal to as much as 8 percent of a company's payroll, if it refuses to provide health-insurance coverage for its workers.

"Why are House Democrats trying to ply more capital and resources out of the private sector when businesses and the economy need every penny it can get it hands on?" Karen Kerrigan, the CEO of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, asked CNSNews.

Officials at the University of Texas system went out of their way to clarify that the survey is not intended to complicate Obama's drive toward government-regulated health care.

"We thank the Obama Administration and the Congress for their support for institutions such as ours and for their careful consideration of policy issues that will impact generations to come," wrote Larry R. Kaiser, M.D., president of the UT Health Science Center at Houston. "I trust that this academic survey will be useful to them in their deliberations."

The Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee approved its own reform bill on Wednesday, by a 13-10 vote along straight party lines.

Obama is insisting that Congress deliver the bill before it begins its Aug. 7 recess, which has triggered concerns from members of both parties that he may be pushing too fast.

One reason for the rush: When elected officials return to their home states from Washington, D.C., they typically get an earful from constituents. Regarding the health care reform measures, the Zogby poll suggests that feedback would almost certainly be negative.

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