Who says Congress doesn’t accurately reflect the will of the American people? The public has spoken about health care reform, and the message is clear: “Whatever.”
If you’re a politician who believes that soaring promises soothe voters, while the painful tradeoffs involved in voting for an actual proposal can only bring trouble, the latest figures from the11th annual Health Confidence Survey of the respected Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) have got to be good news.
The public is practically demanding inaction! Asked what they would do to fix health care, an overwhelming 87 percent favored health tax credits, similar to the health plan of Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, CQ Health Beat reports. On the other hand, a nearly-equally-overwhelming 83 percent favored letting people buy into the same health care system government employees get, the option trumpeted by Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama.
Indeed, one might say the public and the politicians are in sync about the urgent need to pay lip service to the notion of health care reform. So, while a whopping 71 percent of respondents endorsed "major change" or “a complete overhaul “of the health care system, it finished a distant third to the economy and energy costs as a priority. Only about half as many people think health care is as important a crisis as the cost of gasoline (13 percent vs. 24 percent). And should the war in Iraq or some other issue heat up, one can expect health care to continue to finish well back in the pack.
Finally, there was the fine print: About half the respondents said they are “very” or “extremely” satisfied with quality of care. And while hardly anyone had a good opinion about health care costs, the key figure to look at is the personal saliency of their concern. The percentage of Americans reporting an actual increase in their personal health care costs dropped to 55 percent from 63 percent.