The Kaiser Family Foundation has today released the results of its latest poll tracking public opinion on health-care reform. Similar to the polls I wrote about last week, Kaiser has found an uptick in support since a low point in August. The percentage of people wanting "health-care reform now" is up 4 points to 57 percent, and the proportion of people who believe the country will be better off with reform has jumped 8 points to 53 percent. People who believe the country will be worse off under health-care reform is now down 8 points to 26 percent, and individuals believing that they or their family will be worse off is down 8 points to 23 percent. That last number is the critical one for Obama: people must believe his reforms won't hurt them personally if they are to support health reform.
According to the Kaiser poll, the most popular component of health-insurance reform is the insurance-industry regulations that would prevent insurers from dropping or denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions. Surprisingly, 59 percent of respondents supported a tax on so-called Cadillac or high-end plans. Seniors remain the most skeptical demographic, but 55 percent admitted to being "confused" about the outcome of the legislation. That's not surprising, given the messaging wars and lies surrounding changes to Medicare. It's probably good news for Democrats, because if their reforms pass, things will likely change very little for Medicare recipients. When such people realize their benefits haven't changed since a reform bill passed, that will be helpful for clearing up the "confusion."
Perhaps the most interesting part of the study is the messages that would increase voter responsiveness to the Democratic reform package. Here is Kaiser's list of things that would make respondents more likely to support reform:
- Improve health care for our children and grandchildren (77 percent).
- Provide financial help to buy health insurance for those who need it (74 percent).
- Help ensure the long-term financial health of Medicare (69 percent).
- Fulfill a moral obligation by ensuring that people don’t have to go without needed health care just because they can’t afford it (68 percent).
- Ensure that people with a history of illness would not be denied coverage and could get it at the same price as healthier people (65 percent).
If those look familiar, it's because they're all Democratic talking points, and each one is addressed in the proposals before Congress. The bad news for Dems: they're not getting through.