Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bipartisan Healthcare Summit: What the Public Thinks

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bipartisan Healthcare Summit: What the Public Thinks

Article excerpt

The presence of television cameras at the televised bipartisan healthcare summit Thursday makes it inevitable that Democrats and Republicans will try to address the nation at large. Here's what the US public thinks about the issues.

On the eve of a potentially pivotal moment in the debate over healthcare reform, US public attitudes toward the effort remain mixed, giving both Democrats and Republicans hope that they can use Thursday's televised healthcare summit to win voters to their side.

For President Obama and his Democratic congressional allies, the good news is that polls show strong support for many of the individual provisions of their healthcare bills, such as preventing insurers from excluding people with preexisting health conditions. (For more information on the healthcare proposal that Mr. Obama put forward this week, click here.)

But when it comes to the bills as whole, polls generally show an even split, or a negative attitude. And voters clearly have been turned off by the mudslinging, special deals, and all-around ugliness of the Great Washington Health Debate of 2009-10.

As polling expert Nate Silver wrote this week on his popular blog, "The overall [healthcare] package fares poorly not because of concerns about the presence or absence of certain individual measures, but because people are exhausted and turned off by the process and have vague and ill-informed concerns about what the bill would do."

In many ways, the public will be the unseen third party at Thursday's event. The presence of television cameras makes it inevitable that Democrats and Republicans will try to position themselves for the nation at large.

By some measures, the public is almost exactly split on the issue. The latest Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll, released Tuesday, found 43 percent of respondents in favor of healthcare- reform legislation and 43 percent opposed.

Some other results are less favorable to the administration. A Rasmussen survey released this week found 56 percent of respondents opposed to the legislation and 41 percent in favor. …

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