If Congressional Democrats think that Americans don't like the health care bill it's leadership has put together or the process it's using to push it into law, guess what? They're right and their leadership is wrong.
A national survey sponsored by Center for Medicine in the Public Interest-Advance in partnership with Pajamas Media and conducted just this week by the Roper organization shows 60 percent of all Americans regard as unfair the current Democrat proposal to "deem" the Senate health care bill as passed and sending it to the President without voting up or down on it. (Click here for poll results.)
Democrat leaders are telling them that the only thing that matters is passing the bill. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told a group of reporters, "Do you think any American is going to make the distinction" between the process and substance of the bill? I don't think that any American ... any real American out there will make the distinction between the two." The poll sends a message to Mr. Hoyer: Americans know the difference between process and substance. A supermajority believes that using the so-called "deeming" process is undemocratic. And 80 percent of all Americans surveyed reject the core elements of the Democrat health bill.
Ironically, Hoyer is correct when he says: "…in the final analysis what is interesting to the American public is what this bill do for them and their families to make their lives more secure." However, the poll provides no evidence that Democrats will benefit from healthcare reform once enacted. Other surveys show broad support for features of the legislation such as insuring people with pre-existing conditions and the elimination of caps on coverage limits. Our poll also asked voters about other specific elements of the proposed legislation. We found that overwhelming majorities opposed key elements:
Eighty percent oppose increasing taxes and cutting Medicare to provide tax breaks and subsidies for people who already have insurance.
Eighty-one percent oppose charging healthy and younger people higher premiums to subsidize people who, under the bill, can wait until they are sick to buy insurance.
Nearly 90 percent (87 percent) oppose the creation of Independent Healthcare Payment Advisory Commissions that set limits on future access to care and the authority government will have to determine and what kind of health plans the uninsured can have.
We also asked people about proposals to make health insurance more affordable and approaches to promote better health that are not central elements of the current bill. These include proposals to buy plans that reward healthy behavior, encourage saving and investing for future health needs, and reward future treatments and cures instead of taxing them. Strikingly, voters support these alternatives as strongly as they oppose the main elements of the Democrat health bill.
By a wide margin of almost 84 percent, Americans support reforms that would allow people to buy health insurance where it is the least expensive, such as across state lines. Nearly 80 percent of Americans support health care reforms that would let people buy less costly health plans and save and invest for health care needs in the future on a tax-free basis while 84% would support health care reforms that would let people get lower premiums for getting or staying healthy.
Finally when it comes to reduce costs long term, Americans see innovation more favorably than government regulation or taxes. The national poll also found that most Americans do not support increasing Medicare payroll taxes for the high wage earners (46% support, 47% oppose) or reducing what doctors and hospitals are paid for their services (45% support, 48% oppose). By contrast, 8 in 10 Americans support the idea that more money should be invested in the development of cures for the most devastating diseases.
These findings are the most up-to-date and comprehensive measurement of public opinion on health care policy. They should remind our national leaders that the public is a lot smarter and cares more about our democratic institutions than they arrogantly give us credit for. And it shows that the public does not support the proposed bill in total or many of its parts. In particular, the public knows what the legislation will do and does not believe, by huge margins, that government should be raising taxes, cutting Medicare, subsidizing people with insurance, or regulating access to care.
At the same time the poll shows that people do support reforms, though not those included in the bill being sent to the President without a vote. The public's view is summed up by something Ronald Reagan said: Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them. To the extent that the substance and process of healthcare reform violate this credo, legislators who support both do so without regard to the will or wishes of the American people.