Santa Monica, CA — Less than 15% of U.S. voters support, and 53% oppose, a proposal pushed by health insurers requiring every American to provide proof of private health insurance or face tax penalties or other fines, according to a new poll. The poll, commissioned by Consumer Watchdog, also found that by just under a two-to-one margin voters favor requiring a return on taxpayer-funded research that leads to new medical treatments or prescription drugs.
Download the poll here. The poll is based on 840 interviews among registered voters in the United States conducted on December 4 thru December 7, 2008. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence. The poll was coordinated by Grove Insight.
President-elect Obama opposed policies requiring all Americans to buy private health insurance coverage, the so-called "individual mandate," as a candidate. Senator Tom Daschle left open the possibility of his support for the approach in his book, "Critical," under the pretense that he is "not willing to sacrifice worthy improvements on the altar of perfection." Unlike plans pushed by health insurers, Daschle’s proposal importantly would give Americans access to a public insurance program "modeled after Medicare."
Overall, 40% of voters say they are "strongly" opposed to mandating that "every American show proof that they have health insurance coverage or face tax penalties." Less than 15% say they would support it. Another 31% are undecided. Opposition is also strongest in the West (61% oppose; 16% favor), North Central states (54% oppose; 16% favor), the South (51% oppose; 13% favor) and in the Northeast (45% oppose; 18% favor). Download a detailed breakdown of the poll returns here.
"With the cost of health insurance coverage for a family topping $12,500 a year its no wonder Americans overwhelmingly oppose a plan that requires them to buy coverage or face penalties. When voters are told they will have to reach into their own pocket to pay for health insurance they quickly turn against proposals requiring them to buy from insurance companies that are unrestrained in how much they can charge," said Jerry Flanagan, Health Care Policy Director for Consumer Watchdog.
Click here to read a recent letter Consumer Watchdog sent to President-elect Obama detailing the policy concerns with the individual mandate.
California’s debate over health care reform collapsed based on popular opposition to mandatory insurance. A January 2008 poll by Consumer Watchdog’s campaign affiliate, the Campaign for Consumer Rights, found that only 16% of California voters support such a plan. Download the January 2008 California poll here. The California legislature refused to pass a measure supported by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders which would have required middle-class Californians to buy insurance regardless of its cost without regulating what insurers can charge for coverage, and with no guarantee that essential services would be covered. According to a recent poll by the Harvard School of Public Health, only 37% of those impacted by the individual mandate in Massachusetts–the only state with such a requirement in place–support it.
Voters Favor Providing a Return on Taxpayers’ Investment for Any New Treatments or Prescription Drugs Developed By Taxpayer-Funded Research
By just under a two-to-one margin Americans favor requiring a return on taxpayer-funded research that leads to new medical treatments or prescription drugs. The issue is particularly important as President-elect Obama is proposing doubling research funding from the National Institutes of Health. He is also expected to end the Bush Administration’s ban on federal fund of most embryonic stem cell research.
"California’s $6 billion stem cell research program which provides for a payback to taxpayers should serve as a model for federally funded research," said John M. Simpson, Stem Cell Project Director. "When taxpayers fund research they deserve affordable access to what they’ve paid for. California’s stem cell program demonstrates this works."
37% of voters approve of this proposal, while only 21% are opposed. In addition, those who "strongly" favor the proposal outpace "strong" opposition by 12 points (28% strong favor; 16% strong oppose). 42% remain undecided. Support passes the 40% mark among a number of critical subgroups including voters who earn over $75K a year (48%), voters ages 55 to 64 (45%), voters in the West (44%), Northeasterners (42%) and college graduates (42%).
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