"We can see the framework of a winning package of health reform proposals from the public's perspective," said Robert J. Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health. "But the reality is that there are some key distinct differences among partisans that will pose a challenge to policymakers," he added.
The Devil is in the Details ...and the Financing... and the Partisan Divide
One of the key questions of health care reform is how to pay for it. The survey suggests that, as has long been the case, the public is split down the middle in its willingness to sacrifice financially in order to cover more individuals: roughly half (49%) say they are not willing to pay higher insurance premiums or taxes, while a similar percentage (47%) say they are. There are big partisan differences here, with most Democrats (59%) saying they are willing to pay, most Republicans unwilling to pay (67%), and independents divided (49% willing, 47% unwilling).
When offered a list of potential taxes that could be used to pay for expanding health insurance for the uninsured, the only options with majority support were those likely to impact the fewest people, in particular, smokers and the wealthy. Roughly seven in ten (72%) strongly or somewhat favor increasing the cigarette tax, increasing taxes for people from families earning more than $250,000 per year (70%), or repealing current income tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 per year (61%).
The survey also suggests that as in the past early support for a number of reform proposals could fade in the face of arguments that opponents might raise in a public debate. For example, seven in ten Americans (71%) say they favor the i
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Harvard School of Public Health