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Poll Results on Paying for Health Reform

By July 2, 2009November 2nd, 2009Commentary

The Kaiser Foundation has put out a data note looking at results from several polls asking about the public perceptions on how to pay for health reform.  (Kaiser poll analysis)  The analysis is consistent with what we reported in an earlier commentary.  The public in the abstract says it is willing to pay for health reform, but when asked about paying a specific tax increase, for example, $500 a year, only 43% say they would pay that much more for health reform.  The public does not want their health benefits taxed, but they would be happy to have “rich” people’s taxes raised to help pay for reform.  Other tax increases, such as sales taxes on cigarettes, alcohol and snack foods are generally also favored.  Reducing Medicare payments to providers to generate funding for reform is favored by a small majority.  The most discouraging finding is that 60% of respondents think that if reform were done right, it shouldn’t require spending any more money!  Policymakers have obviously done a terrible job of educating the public on the health care and health care reform realities.  No one should believe that, especially in the short term, there is any way that reform will not require significant amounts of new funding (i.e., taxes).  The poll results suggest that as Americans see the price tag attached to reform, especially with already heightened concerns about government spending, they will be less supportive of reform efforts.

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