(Updated) A think tank that supports smaller government and lower taxes released a poll Thursday which found 50 percent of Connecticut voters polled oppose the national health care bill being debated in Congress.
The automated telephone poll of 1,526 voters found that 50.9 percent oppose the changes Congress has been discussing, while 33.9 percent are in favor of it. And about 49.8 percent believe more government involvement in health care will be harmful, while 36.4 percent believe government involvement will improve costs and expand coverage.
The poll also found that 62 percent believe Congress is acting too quickly on the health care proposal, while 29 percent feel Congress hasn’t debated the bill enough.
Fergus Cullen, executive director of the Yankee Institute, said the poll was conducted last week prior to the election in Massachusetts where Republican Scott Brown—the 41st vote Republicans needed to block the healthcare reform bill—emerged victorious.
“The support for health care overall has declined in state after state,” Cullen said. “Massachusetts just happens to be the latest example.”
The Yankee Institute poll “reflects the deep skepticism and doubts about the health care reform efforts,” Cullen said. “But that’s not to say the Yankee Institute is opposed to health care reform of some kind.” He said the institute supports finding ways to reduce the number of uninsured through free market approaches. He said more government won’t help lower premiums and increase competition.
The business leaders he brought with him to the Capitol Thursday agreed.
Andrew Markowski of the National Federation of Independent Business said buried in the health care bill is a provision, which would force construction companies to provide extensive health care coverage to their employees if they have more than five employees. For all other industries the exemption in the revised Senate bill is 50 employees or less, Markowski said.
He said that’s just one example of how the health care bill is “misguided and will do nothing to turn the economy around.”
Paul Smith of the National Association of Health Underwriters said he’s been to Washington D.C. four times this year to talk to lawmakers about what needs to be done.
“The things we need to reform, unfortunately, are not in that bill today,” Smith said. “Hopefully what happened lately in Massachusetts, it will back up a few things and people will start to think about what are the things we really need to reform.”
The things that need reform are the things associated with costs, which are not in the bill, Smith said. One of those things is medical malpractice reform. He said currently doctors are forced to practice defensive medicine which drives up the cost of care and ultimately insurance premiums.
Bill Carew of Ovation Benefits in Farmington said health care needs to be address in a really important way.
“Health care costs are up 131 percent in the last 10 years and wages are up maybe 30 percent,” Carew said. “We need to focus on costs and we need to take an approach that’s reasoned and address things that grow jobs.”
Phil Sherwood, deputy director of the Connecticut Citizens Action Group, an organization that supports health care reform, questioned the polls’ results.
Pointing to the room where the press conference was held, Sherwood said they “are the biggest allies of the insurance industry, which continues to put profits before people.”
“He may not like what they said, but the poll results are the poll results,” Cullen said.
“Regardless of their poll, people with preexisting medical conditions are finding it more difficult to find coverage,” Sherwood said.
Janet Davenport,. communications director for the Universal Health Care Foundation, said she looked at the Yankee Institute’s poll results and saw skepticism, not opposition.
She said Connecticut is also different than Massachusetts because it already has a solution designed to provide more choice and competition in the insurance marketplace. That solution is called SustiNet.
Designed to make a new public health insurance choice available to individuals and businesses, control costs and improve the quality of care, SustiNet is in the early implementation phase.
“Fortunately, our state’s leadership had the foresight and the fortitude to pass a complete health reform solution,” Frances Padilla, acting president of the foundation, said in a press release.