The Spectacle Blog

Given Me A Break Marie! Part 2

By on 10.12.06 | 2:16PM

This is how Coco comes to her conclusion that Americans really want some form of Hillary Health Care:

More than 90 percent of those who participated in community meetings or responded to the commission's questions and polls said they believed every American should have affordable coverage. A clear majority wants a mandated, basic benefit for everyone and is "not comfortable with bare-bones benefit packages.'' There's agreement, as well, that if doing things more efficiently and reshuffling current government subsidies don't generate enough money for expanding coverage then - ahem - people are willing to pay higher taxes. "We found, across the board, that majorities of the population were willing to pay more to ensure that all Americans are covered,'' the commission said in its report.

Ha! Such meetings are always dominated by activists and union members, hardly a representative sample of Americans. As for the polls, this is what I wrote when the Working Group released its report:

The report also relies on some pretty meaningless poll results to support their first recommendation to "establish public policy that all Americans have affordable health care":
In the discussion of underlying values and perceptions that began each community meeting, 94 percent of all participants agreed with the statement, "It should be public policy [written in law] that all Americans have affordable health care." Additionally, most respondents to the Working Group's Internet poll strongly agreed (80 percent) or agreed (12 percent) with that statement. People at many of the community meetings expressed the desire for "cradle to grave" access to health care, guaranteed in law.

Gee, who isn't going to answer affirmatively that all Americans should have affordable health care? However, any public policy that aims toward that end inevitably involves trade-offs, which a feel-good poll question like that above does not capture. Start asking questions like "It should be public policy that all Americans have affordable health care, even if it means higher taxes," or "It should be public policy that all Americans have affordable health care even if it means government must ration health care," and you might not get quite the 90-plus percent affirmative response.

Coco should look at the times when universal health care has been put to the voters. It doesn't seem to fare quite as well as it does in the polls. In 1994 Californians voted 73-27% against Proposition 186 that would have provided universal coverage in the Golden State. In the state of Oregon -- not exactly red county central -- voters rejected a similar measure even more handily, 79-21%, during the 2002 election.

Coco may think the time is ripe for universal coverage, but the voters have other ideas.

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