A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

New Poll Numbers on Health Care Show the Challenge

New Poll Numbers on Health Care Show the Challenge

June 16, 2005

New polling data by 7News and Suffolk University: 3 questions for 400 registered voters:

1. Should the Commonwealth provide health care for every resident?
Yes 67% No 28% Undecided 6%

2. Can the Commonwealth afford to provide health care for every resident?
Yes 34% No 52% Undecided 14%

3. Should people who can afford health care be compelled to pay for it?
Yes 69% No 20% Undecided 12%

Same old story. A strong majority of the public wants everyone to have health care, health insurance, or whatever. And the strong majority evaporates when the cost issue is brought forward. These days, we talk in high falutin' ways about values. I find it helpful to think about the word "values" in a more practical sense. We may "value" health care or education or environmental protection in abstract ways. The real test comes when we have to choose between one thing we value and something else. Do we value expanding health care more or less than we value keeping taxes where they are? When that question produces a good majority of "yes" answers, that's something we can take to the bank.

And what about question 3? I guess the operative words are "can afford" -- and affordability is very much in the eye of the beholder. Still, "compelled" is a tough term to gather 69% approval. Give us your own reactions to these questions and we'll include your responses in a future entry.