A new CBS News poll finds that a significant plurality of Americans do not feel reform has gone far enough. It also shows that overall support for Obama's handling of health care reform has dropped to an all-time low of just 36%.
The most interesting questions in the poll were about whether people think reform went far enough or went too far: When asked about trying to "provide health insurance to as many Americans as possible," 32% said that the plan goes too far, 35% said it doesn't go far enough, and 22% said it is about right.
Asked about trying to "control costs," 24% said that reform proposals go too far, 39% said it doesn't go far enough, and 21% said it is about right.
And, when asked about "trying to regulate the health insurance industry," the breakdown was 27% in the go too far camp, 43% saying the plan doesn't go far enough, and 18% thinking it was about right.
Interesting, to me, is the segment of people that thought efforts to expand coverage are just about right. I find this perplexing. I can understand that some people who are opposed reform and spending in general would think the bill went too far, but I find it hard to believe anyone would think this bill did the right amount to expand coverage. Unlike cost control or regulation, the number of uninsured covered is very quantifiable. If you believe in universal coverage, a bill that only reduces the number of uninsured by roughly 60% clearly, by definition, does not go far enough. I find it hard to believe there is a large number of Americans who only want significantly expanded coverage, but not universal coverage for all Americans. I think it does show how effective the Democrats’ efforts to falsely depict the bill as “universal coverage” have been. The fact that some 25 million people in this country would still be without health insurance is probably not well known by the majority of Americans.
What I think is truly fascinating is how many people believe this health care reform legislation will not do enough to regulate the health insurance industry. Promising that reform would "keep the insurance industry honest" and end their bad practices has been one of the biggest Democratic selling points for reform. Even 26% of self-identified Republicans think reform does not go far enough in trying to regulate the insurance companies. That is shocking given the GOP’s long history of pushing for deregulation. Over a quarter of Republicans think a partisan Democratic bill meant to regulate an industry does not impose enough regulation.
The poll indicates that a large portion of Americans feel this bill has been way too friendly to the insurance companies. Insurance companies are not popular, and they are probably one of only a few industries people are actually clamoring to see face much tougher regulation. It seems substantially increasing the checks on the insurance industry would be the best way to improve the popularity of health care reform. Democrats are already viewed as taking the side of the bankers in the bailout; they don't want to go into the 2010 election also being seen as being too friendly to the health insurance industry.