Tags: Barack Obama | Healthcare Reform | Affordable Care Act | Gallup Poll | majority | government

Gallup Poll: Majority Say Healthcare Isn't Government's Duty

By    |   Thursday, 20 November 2014 02:49 PM

For the third consecutive year, a majority of Americans said it is not the role of the federal government to ensure all Americans have healthcare coverage, according to a new Gallup poll.

Fifty-two percent of Americans said they do not believe the government has a responsibility to provide everyone with healthcare coverage, while 45 percent say it is.

When Gallup began asking the question in 2000, 59 percent said they felt government did have a responsibility to provide coverage and it peaked at 69 percent in 2006. However, after Barack Obama was elected president, the pendulum began to swing toward a nongovernment-involvement view and has remained the majority opinion for three years, according to Gallup.

Frank Newport of Gallup notes that the public's attitudes about the federal government's role in health care "shifted significantly after Obama was elected in 2008" and when he took office in 2009.

"Given that Obama campaigned on a pledge to expand the government's role in ensuring healthcare coverage for Americans, and then pushed for and obtained passage of the landmark ACA in 2010, these tangible manifestations of a larger government role in healthcare most likely created a significant backlash, particularly among Republicans and independents," says Newport.

Given the partisan divide over Obamacare, it is not surprising to find views on government involvement differ among Republicans and Democrats.

Seven in 10 Democrats see government having an obligation to provide coverage, while 75 percent of Republican-leaning voters disagreed.

Similarly, among nonwhites, one of the Democratic Party's key constituencies, 66 percent felt government should provide healthcare and 60 percent of young voters also agreed with that position.

Although many of them receive Medicare from the government, 58 percent of voters aged 55 and older said providing healthcare is not the government's responsibility.

The Pew Research Center asked a similar question earlier this year and found that 47 percent say the government has a responsibility, while 50 percent say that is not the responsibility of the federal government.

Among "consistent" liberals, 89 percent favored either a national healthcare system (54 percent) or a system with a mix of government and private involvement (31 percent).

Of the 50 percent who do not see providing healthcare as a duty of the federal government, 43 percent said it is not the government’s responsibility to ensure healthcare coverage for all, but believe the government should "continue programs like Medicare and Medicaid for seniors and the very poor." Just 6 percent agreed that the government "should not be involved in providing health insurance at all."

Newport says the attitudes Americans have about the government's role in health care might help to explain their perceptions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

"The act's proponents have pointed out that Americans favor a number of the act's provisions when tested in isolation, and that the act has already lowered the nation's uninsured rate. Yet, a majority of Americans continue to say they disapprove of it, even as the ACA is making progress toward its stated goal of expanding health insurance coverage. That more than half of Americans think it is not the government's role to make sure Americans have healthcare coverage suggests that opposition to the ACA may be centered more on its philosophical underpinnings, rather than on the specifics of its actual provisions and outcomes," he writes.

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For the third consecutive year, a majority of Americans said it is not the role of the federal government to ensure all Americans have healthcare coverage, according to a new Gallup poll.
Affordable Care Act, Gallup Poll, majority, government
Thursday, 20 November 2014 02:49 PM
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