WASHINGTON (CNN) – As President Barack Obama hosts a Thursday summit at the White House on health care reform, recent national polling suggests that nearly three out of four Americans support government programs to improve the country's health care system.
Seventy-two percent of those questioned in recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey say they favor increasing the federal government's influence over the country's health care system in an attempt to lower costs and provide health care coverage to more Americans, with 27 percent opposing such a move. Other recent polls show six in 10 think the government should provide health insurance or take responsibility for providing health care to all Americans.
"That doesn't mean that health care reform is a slam dunk," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Americans tend to support those goals. The question - just as in 1994 - is how they will react to the details of future legislation to address those goals."
President Bill Clinton and then First Lady Hillary Clinton tried by failed to reform and expand health care coverage during a two year period from 1993 to 1994.
The poll also indicates that health care is tied as the third most important issue for President Obama and Congress to deal with over the next year. Forty-eight percent said dealing with health care was extremely important, tied with education and trailing only the economy and terrorism as the most important issues.
"Health care is more important to women than to men," Holland notes. "It is extremely important to Democrats. But Republicans don't see it as a top priority for the president and Congress to address this year."
The administration's health care summit is expected to focus on reducing and containing costs, as well as expanding coverage. Doctors, nurses, pharmaceutical representatives, lawmakers and hospital officials are among the 150 people expected to take part in the gathering, seen by President Obama as a starting point in tackling health care reform.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 18-19, with 1,046 people questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for some questions and plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for others.