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New Poll Shows Public Distrusts Flawed Healthcare Approach Favored by Governor and Speaker in AB 8

OAKLAND, Calif., Sept. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the first public test of voter reaction to the healthcare deal being put together by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, California voters are expressing serious reservations about the proposed bill, according to findings of a new poll released today by the California Nurses Association.

More than two-thirds of California voters -- a margin of 68 percent to 25 percent -- said they prefer "making sure we pass healthcare reform that gets it right and improves the system, and not take the risk of passing bad legislation."

The poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, commissioned by the California Nurses Association, also found that voters were more likely to oppose the Schwarzenegger-Nunez approach, AB 8, when told that it was opposed by nurses. The phone survey of 700 likely voters was conducted from August 21-26.

"Californians desperately want health care reform, but they want genuine reform that solves the crisis, not a flawed approach that fails to control rising premiums and drug costs or assure everyone gets care when and where they need it," said CNA President Deborah Burger, RN.

The poll reinforced findings last month by the Field poll which found support for a Schwarzenegger-style insurance based reform, which is also the basis for AB 8, has plummeted since December, while more voters are leaning toward a single-payer style reform as in an improved and expanded Medicare for all.

In the Greenberg Quinlan poll, when provided a favorable description of AB 8, a plurality, but not a majority, of voters said they supported the bill, by a 49-40 percent.

But once voters were told of serious flaws in the bill, opposition rose to 50 percent while support fell to just 35 percent. And, when told it was opposed by nurses, opposition climbed further to 57 percent while support fell to just 25 percent.

Another drag on support for AB 8 is the fact that many voters would prefer to establish a single payer system rather than keep the existing employer based system that relies on health insurance companies. The poll found that 36 percent of voters favored extending Medicare to everyone and eliminating insurance companies and HMOs compared to 27 percent who want to require employers to cover everyone.

Problems cited with AB 8 included its failure to control rising insurance premiums, co-pays, deductibles and drug prices; that insurance companies could still exclude coverage for the sickest people; and that big insurance companies would benefit the most.

By contrast, by a huge margin of 70 percent to 21 percent, voters said they would be willing to pay more for a health plan that covered everyone, had no co-pays or deductibles, wasn't attached to one's job, and guaranteed choice of doctor or hospital. That's the approach reflected in Sen. Sheila Kuehl's SB 840 single-payer bill.

Further, that approach won support among voters across political lines, by Democrats, 77-13 percent; independents, 72-20 percent; and Republicans 60-32 percent.

Finally, voters were aghast at the notion that some legislators might favor AB 8 in exchange for Gov. Schwarzenegger's endorsement for a proposed term limits initiative that would enable some legislators to stay in office longer.

Two-thirds of the voters, 67 percent, said they would have a less favorable opinion of their legislator if they learned he or she was supporting AB 8 "for political reasons" to seek Gov. Schwarzenegger's backing for the term limits initiative, to 15 percent who said they would have a more favorable opinion.

SOURCE California Nurses Association
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