THE HEALTHCARE ENIGMA….From an LA Times poll on healthcare, an interesting finding:

In one of the most politically significant results, the poll finds that independents and moderates were generally lining up with Democrats in the healthcare debate.

The survey also suggested an explanation for the emerging alignment: Independents were most likely to complain about “job lock” — the view that they are stuck in jobs they don’t like solely because of health benefits. In all, 20% of independents said they or someone in their household were forced to stay in a job because it provided healthcare, compared with 13% of Democrats and 5% of Republicans.

The “job lock” argument has always seemed like a persuasive one to me, but I’ve long wondered whether it really had concrete salience for very many people. This survey suggests that it does, but then adds a further layer of mystery. Why, after all, should political independents suffer from it more than Democrats or Republicans? Very odd.

Elsewhere in the story, we get further evidence that Americans basically have completely incoherent views about healthcare:

The poll found that Americans were divided on one of the basic questions surrounding the healthcare debate: who should bear the main responsibility in securing health insurance.

Twenty-nine percent said it is the responsibility of government; 23% said employers; 24% said individuals should take care of themselves, without help from government or employers; and 19% said it is a shared responsibility.

….The survey found that 53% supported the idea of extending Medicare to cover all Americans, creating a government-run system; and 36% opposed it. But Blendon, the Harvard expert, said that finding was suspect because the poll question did not make clear that such a system would be financed by taxes.

So 29% think government should be responsible for providing healthcare, but 53% approve of extending Medicare to cover everyone. Uh huh. And then this Blendon fellow suggests that maybe this contradiction is the result of people not realizing that Medicare is paid for with taxes. That’s completely crazy, of course, but it’s also quite possibly true.

So what to think? Two things: (a) Support for national healthcare really isn’t as strong as a lot of liberals would like to believe. (b) People really are confused on this subject, and their opinions are shallow and malleable. Genuine leadership could change a lot of minds.

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