March 5th, 2009
12:52 PM ET
14 years ago

Poll: Do Americans want government health care reform?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Recent national polling suggests that nearly three out of four Americans support government programs to improve the country's health care system."]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.

Filed under: Health care • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Todd

    Should all Americans have access to health care? Yes...

    But, Obama is increasing our taxes, having us pay for new roads, new schools, paying for people to get jobs, paying to get people out of the bad loans they chose on their homes, killing our chances of retiring by not doing anything about the plummetting stock market, choosing people to regulate/represent us that are not paying their own taxes, and now he wants to include us paying for everyone else's health care????

    At what point does it end – once we ALL have NOTHING???

    March 5, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. Di

    Every Dem and Gop wants all Americans to have health care. We need to STOP the PORK. Government needs to reduce spending. Also reform medicaid!!!

    March 5, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  3. Jean

    The country is dissenting into a big black hole and Obama is worried about Government Controlled Health Care.

    What is wrong with this picture?

    Are you nuts?

    CNN, you are living in pal-wow land, you better wake up to reality.

    March 5, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  4. Once you vote Black

    Yes, it is one of the reasons we voted for Obama. My question is will it help the economy? It will make people healther and it will cost a lot, but can we afford it? If so lets do it!

    March 5, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  5. Kevin

    Come on America

    34 of the 35 developed nations in the world move to Universal Healthcare.
    And not one country has returned back to private health care.
    There is a reason.

    March 5, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  6. Deb

    Americans may not want health care reform but AMERICA needs health care reform.

    March 5, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  7. dmcd

    So Rush and his buddies on the far right keep screaming that the U.S. does not need nor want anything near socialism. They point to govt. intervention into health care as a preliminary step toward this.
    Yet 72 percent of Americans want more govt. intervention when it comes to health care.
    I have been thinking for months that a small minority of people actually think the way these right wing ideologues do.
    This poll supports my hypothesis.
    President Obama: Please keep doing the will of the people, and all the best in your attempts to drag our country out of the current doldrums that Bushy boy left us in.

    March 5, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  8. PleaseHelpUs


    I'm 53, single, and have worked full-time all of my life (small business admin.). Last year I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Insurance through my employer (of which I paid 1/2) ended half way through my hospital stay. My employer let me go a day after I returned home from the hospital. No cobra (even if I could have afforded it) – because there were less than 20 people on the payroll. I was forced to apply for medicaid, and advised to apply for social security disability (the cancer is considered "incurable" – main 'treatment' is surgical removal, followed by monitoring with CT scans and lab work every 3-6 months).

    Long story, short, I finally received my "disability" ($1,500/month). Now I make too much to be eligible for full medicaid coverage (my 'share of cost' would be around $900/month, in other words, try to live on $637/month for rent, food, utilities, and other bills – I'm very frugal, but this is impossible). There is a mandatory 24 month waiting period for medicare coverage.

    As a rare cancer patient, I am now without medical coverage, on a fixed income, and even if I could possibly afford individual healthcare coverage on $1,500/month, I have a pre-existing condition .

    WE NEED SINGLE-PAYER, UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE in this country. So called "affordable" or 'employer mandated' healthcare will not take care of the problem. We need our elected officials to 'take on' the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical giants – and put the needs of society first!! Please, PLEASE HELP US.

    March 5, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  9. Ted:Canada

    millions on Americans don't have health care

    in the 21st century with all the health care advances we have seen some Amercian's can't afford it? – YES citzens of the US can't get health care?

    USA – you are a third world country led bu RUSH

    what a sin against Democracy!
    what a sin against God!

    March 5, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  10. sniffhole

    Socialism is just around the corner. Hope barry lovers will enjoy the substandard care and longer than heil lines to see the doc.....the head Groid is destroying America.

    March 5, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  11. lovable liberal

    You'd think we would finally give up after all these years on the Republican free market mechanisms that haven't worked. Maybe we're finally ready for a more intelligent public use of market incentives to get universal coverage, more efficient allocation, and better health outcomes – which all our competitors among first world democracies already have. The plus side of being last is that we can learn from their mistakes and their successes.

    March 5, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  12. Bruce West

    Here is a solution for health care and stimulating the economy.

    Expanding Medicare to all ages would save money because Medicare's overhead is only 3% versus 20% for private insurance.

    This expansion would require raising the Medicare payroll tax. However, the tax increase would be offset by the fact that businesses can raise wages when they are relieved of skyrocketing health insurance costs.

    Bruce West, Orange County, CA

    March 5, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  13. precious

    For all those who said President Bush failed, well, didn't America then failed? An if America has already failed, how then can President Obama succeed?

    March 5, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  14. closet republican

    I'm a woman and I work in the healthcare industry and I have a strong opposition to government involvement in healthcare. There are just some things that are too delicate to nationalize and the system is already messy as is. I think that this is something that, if done, should be done very slowly and carefully and strongly considered before implementation.

    March 5, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  15. Super D


    March 5, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. Virginia Cole

    Of course people in America want health care reform. Do you realize how much money would be free for other things if older people and others could have the freedom to spend the money they hold on to because of fear of an illness that their health insurance would refuse to cover? I would have twice the home and be able to do more things for my children if I weren't worried about my home being taken away from me due to health expenses. It's the only worry I have left. I would be happy if at first only catastrophic illnesses were covered. I am sure that would bother the insurance companies, however, as fear is their main bargaining tool in this legalized gambling way of making money.

    March 5, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  17. FreeNLovIt

    The question is: Do you want to continue to pay $300.00 for a blue pill?

    March 5, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |


    March 5, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  19. Jack in Florida

    We cannot afford NOT to have healthcare reform

    March 5, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. Little too late????

    DemacRATS are a one-trick pony...just keep taking the playbook from the last 'RAT administration and keep pursuing what they couldnt get done!

    This IS change, Mr President...the Clinton era with a new name to it...thanks.

    March 5, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  21. Joel

    Bruce, if only it were to be that easy, the government would have already done it!

    First, private insurance may do it with higher overhead, but they also do things more efficiently. Medicare isn't a slam dunk solution to fixing healthcare, as you would invariably have to get rid of all private insurance in the process (as the Canadians have done). This comes with a whole host of problems, such as: what if someone wants to get their own insurance? And more importantly, it means a rationing of medical services for everyone. So yeah, everyone would have insurance, but it what good is it if you have to wait for procedures and have your care dictated by the government? I'm not at all in favor of that.

    President Obama has said that he will accept any ideas for overhauling healthcare except for the status quo. But what he fails to communicate is that we put more funding into healthcare than any other country BY FAR. There is a reason that people who live in countries with socialized healthcare come to have procedures done : we have freedom in deciding who to go to, we have excellent healthcare and we don't have to wait for it. This will all change if Obama has his way.

    March 5, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  22. marty

    With the government track record on containing costs, do we really want $25 band-aids and $250 hospital gowns? The government will never bring down health care costs, only the private sector can do that. We don't need another entitlement. After all, how good a job has Washington done with Social Security and Medicare? Both are ready to drown in red ink.

    March 5, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  23. Rick

    Do Americans want government health care reform?


    March 5, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  24. Reality Check Richmond Virginia


    March 5, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  25. MZ

    I hope when Mr. Obama visits Europe he gets a much closer look at what his potential plans look like in action. They don't work there, and they won't work here !!!

    March 5, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
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