Democrats in Congress are vowing to pass their national healthcare plan with a vote in the House possible by the end of this week. But most voters still oppose the plan the same way they have for months.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 43 percent favor the healthcare plan proposed by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, while 53 percent oppose it. Those findings include 23 percent who “strongly favor” the plan and 46 percent who “strongly oppose” it.
The numbers are virtually unchanged from last week and are consistent with findings in regular tracking going back to just after Thanksgiving.
Democrats continue to overwhelmingly support the plan, while Republicans and voters not affiliated with either party strongly oppose it.
Opposition continues to stem in part from unchanging views that the plan will drive up the cost and worsen the quality of healthcare in America.
Fifty-seven percent of voters also believe the healthcare reform plan now working its way through Congress will hurt the U.S. economy.
Despite the plan’s stated goal of reducing healthcare costs, 55 percent of voters believe the cost of healthcare will go up if the Democrats’ plan becomes law. Just 18 percent say it will make costs go down. Twenty percent predict costs will stay about the same.
Similarly, just 24 percent of voters think the quality of healthcare will be better if the plan is passed. Fifty-two percent say quality will get worse, and another 19 percent say it will stay the same.
Seventy-six percent of those with insurance now rate their own coverage as good or excellent.
The fact that most Americans are comfortable with their own insurance coverage has proven to be a major obstacle for advocates of reform. Overall, 44 percent of voters rate the U.S. healthcare system as good or excellent.
While opposition to the plan has remained constant for some time now, belief that the plan will become law is rising again. Now 51 percent say it is at least somewhat likely that the healthcare proposal will become law this year, up four points from a week ago. That number includes 20 percent who say passage is very likely. Only 34 percent now say Congress is not very or not at all likely to pass the plan.
But most voters (55 percent) would rather see Congress scrap the original plan and start all over again.
The disconnect between sustained public opposition to the healthcare plan and the belief it may pass may be one reason that just 21 percent of voters believe the federal government has the consent of the governed. This follows a similar disconnect on the bailouts, the takeover of General Motors and other initiatives that were approved in the past year despite strong public opposition.
The president and congressional Democrats have attempted to demonize health insurance companies to build support for the plan. But when it comes to health insurance decisions, 51 percent fear the federal government more than they fear private insurance companies. Thirty-nine percent (39 percent) fear private insurers more.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have been pushing strongly for passage of the healthcare plan in spite of public opposition, and they’ve now reached or matched their highest unfavorability ratings in a year. Reid continues to trail his three leading Republican challengers in his bid for reelection this November in Nevada.
The healthcare plan is even more unpopular in Missouri than it is nationally. That helps explain why Democratic Senate candidate Robin Carnahan who’s in a close race with Republican Roy Blunt wasn’t on hand this past week when the president came to the state to sell the plan.
Healthcare reform now ranks fifth in terms of voter concern on a list of 10 issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports.