Major Surge in Support for National Health Insurance among U.S. Physicians

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Sheila Khehl

According to the new statewide poll by the Field Institute, released yesterday, the number of Californians who would prefer to receive their health care coverage “through the government” has risen by 9 percentage points since the last poll in 2006, and now stands at 31%, while those who prefer that individuals take responsibility for their own coverage dropped 6 percentage points to 20%, and those preferring employer sponsored coverage declined 4 percentage points to 38%,. “Government provided health coverage” was the only policy option showing an increase in support.

Since 2002, universal health care advocates have rallied around Senate Bill 840 (Kuehl) the California Universal Health Care Act. These advocates have formed the OneCareNow coalition, made up of hundreds of supporting organizations around the state. The coalition has prioritized community education about universal health care and sponsored hundreds of public educational events throughout the year.

“This poll shows that the investment by single payer advocates in steady community organizing and education is paying off,” Senator Kuehl said. “These advocates, working under the radar of most politicos in Sacramento, have played a big part in the fact that people’s attitudes are changing very very quickly; I think we’re closer than ever to universal health care in California.”

The Field poll notes that, of all the major participants in last years health reform debate, Californians had far and away the most favorable view of the California Nurses Association, a lead proponent of single payer universal health care and SB 840 (Kuehl).

The field poll also documents the dramatic unpopularity of health insurance companies with 55% of respondents having an unfavorable view of the role they played in last years debate.

The poll also found that 88% of Californians are concerned with rising out of pocket costs for health insurance coverage, and that 81% of Californians are concerned that they will not be able to pay for all the costs associated with a major illness or injury – even though a large majority of these respondents have some form of health insurance coverage.

The poll additionally found that 67% of Californians believe that insurance costs should be shared by individuals, employers and the government, the precise funding sources identified in Kuehl’s proposal.

“Californians want everyone covered, regardless of their health condition, they want everyone to pay something reasonable and affordable — government, individuals and employers–and they don’t want to worry about not being able to pay their medical bills if they get sick. Single-payer universal health care is the only proposal on the table that provides all these factors,” stated Senator Kuehl. “The problems that Californians are experiencing with their health care are due to the fact that health care costs are rising 2-3 times faster than their wages, and all the insurance companies want to do is deny, delay and rescind.”

Notably, the Field poll did not ask respondents if they were concerned that premiums were rising nor if they would support an individual mandate if the costs of premiums and out of pocket expenses were not capped.

The Field Poll follows a recent study published in the leading medical journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, which found that 59% of U.S. physicians now support government legislation to establish national health insurance, reflecting an increase of 10 percentage points from the 2002 study.

Office of Senator Sheila Kuehl
Contact: Sara Rogers

(916) 651-4023

Published by the LA Progressive on April 29, 2008
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