Health care polling

HEALTH CARE POLLING…. A few new national polls were released over the last 24 hours, but of particular interest are public attitudes about health care reform. The data from the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll seems relatively encouraging.

Without being told anything specific about the Obama plan in the survey, about a third of people said it’s a good idea, about a third said it’s a bad idea and the rest had no opinion. When given several details of his approach, 55% said they favored it, versus 35% who were opposed.

There was also support for the Democratic push to let people sign up for a public health-care plan that would compete with private companies, one of the toughest issues in the health-care debate. Three in four people said a public plan is extremely or quite important. But when told the arguments for and against the plan, a smaller portion, 47%, agreed with arguments in support of the plan, with 42% agreeing with the arguments against it.

Americans are, in other words, open to persuasion. They don’t know they like Obama’s approach, but approve when they hear about it. The public option fares very well — 75% support is tremendous — but hesitate when confronted with conservative arguments. If the White House has a powerful communications strategy in mind, now would probably be a good time to launch it.

The same poll found majority support for requiring all Americans to get insurance, but majority opposition to taxing health benefits.

Gallup, meanwhile, also issued an interesting poll, which asked respondents to say whether or not they have confidence in various groups and names involved in the health care policy debate. Doctors, hospitals, and President Obama all fared pretty well, with majorities expressing confidence.

At the bottom we see pharmaceutical companies (40%), insurance companies (35%), and congressional Republicans (34%).

That’s right, GOP lawmakers fared even worse than insurance companies.

With these results in mind, mcjoan asks the right question: “So, for the 432nd time, why do the Democrats feel it is so critical for ‘bipartisanship’ on this one? No one is demanding it except Republicans who keep showing, time, and time, and time again that they are not going to help.”