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article imagePoll: Public Option in Health Care Backed by American Majority

By Carol Forsloff     Sep 1, 2009 in Politics
A recent survey from SurveyUSA reports three-quarters of Americans back a public option in health care. This is in line with what was found since 2003.
NBC News and the The Wall Street Journal didn’t include the public option in their August polling, Jonathan Singer reports in My Direct Democracy. SurveyUSA decided to do so in order to determine how Americans continue to feel about the public option. What they found in asking the very question NBC and The Journal had used in June was when people are given the public health care option as a possibility, a significant majority consider it to be extremely important. These are the results found . Parentheses reflect June results from the NBC/Wall Street Journal survey:
Extremely important: 58 percent (41 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Quite important: 19 percent (35 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Not that important: 7 percent (12 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Not at all important: 15 percent (8 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Total important: 77 percent (76 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Total unimportant: 22 percent (20 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
The public health care option was not included the second time around a survey was done by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal. Singer observes it isn’t clear why. He writes that it is interesting to note how public opinion about a public option hasn’t changed despite the protests from the right and a media climate that has shown negative responses to the public option. Indeed, he reflects on how interesting it is that even 71 percent of Republicans favor it and wonders therefore why many members of Congress remains uncomfortable about a public option.
Present poll results present information at the 95% confidence level. Polls, as research has shown, can have flaws, either in the construction of questions, type of respondents surveyed, and bias of those who put polls together. As has been noted in an article on the subject of polling, experts in journalism underline how important to look at sampling methods, margin of error and confidence level of results when reporting poll results.
In this case, 1,200 adults were surveyed with a margin of error of + or – 2.9% indicating a reasonable chance that similar results would be found in a similar survey. SurveyUSA maintains it is a separate , independent organization with no vested interest in the health care debate. Data collection was underwritten by MoveOn USA, an organization considered liberal by many, however respondents were not told in advance of this so the questions would not be biased with that information.
Survey USA and Singer reflect on the value of the fact the poll results given by Survey USA is similar to the results presented both by NBC and The Wall Street Journal in June.
A liberal-oriented source presented the following survey of results made in 2005 by a number of different polling organizations: "The public wants the government to play a leading role in providing health care for all. For example, in an October, 2003 Washington Post/ABC poll, by almost a two-to-one margin (62 percent to 33 percent), Americans said that they preferred a universal system that would provide coverage to everyone under a government program, as opposed to the current employer-based system.
Similarly, in Kaiser polls from 1992 to 2000, a large majority of the public agreed that the federal government should guarantee medical care for people who don't have health insurance. In a slightly different question asked more recently by Kaiser in June 2003, more than seven in ten adults (72 percent) agreed that the government should guarantee health insurance for all citizens, even if it means repealing most of the tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush, while less than one-quarter (24 percent) disagreed with this statement. Finally, the last time Gallup asked whether the federal government should make sure all Americans have health coverage, they agreed that was a federal government responsibility by 62-35 (November, 2002)."
Poll results, outlined by graph since 2003, indicate most Americans favor universal health coverage and a public option. The graph includes polls conducted by Yahoo, Yahoo News, Annals of Internal Medicine, Quinnipac in Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio, Ballot Initiative in Massachusetts, Grove Insight, NY Times, CNN Opinion, N.Y. Times/CBS, Minnesota Medicine Magazine of Minnesota Physicians, the Harris Poll, Kaiser Family Foundation, Health Poll Report, Washington Post/ABC and Time Magazine
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