Brad O'Leary: New Poll: Health Care Issues Loom Large for 2010 Elections

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Recently the O'Leary Report newsletter teamed up with Zogby International to poll voters in competitive House and Senate 2010 elections on various health care reform issues. The results show that incumbent senators and representatives may want to proceed with extreme caution on health care.

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Recently the O'Leary Report newsletter teamed up with Zogby International to poll voters in competitive House and Senate 2010 elections on various health care reform issues. The results show that incumbent senators and representatives may want to proceed with extreme caution on health care.

A top-to-bottom, government-run health care system is clearly not popular with 2010 voters. Fifty-eight percent of voters in states with competitive 2010 Senate races oppose the creation of a government-run health care system, or "single-payer" system, where the federal government pays for and provides health care for all Americans. Fifty-five percent of voters in competitive 2010 House districts oppose a "single-payer" system.

Less popular with 2010 voters is a key provision in Sen. Max Baucus', D-Mont., recently unveiled health care bill that would require all Americans to purchase health insurance or face a hefty fine. A clear majority of voters in competitive Senate races (68 percent) oppose such a provision, as do 70 percent of voters in competitive House races.

Also unpopular is the so-called "employer mandate," which would require large and small businesses to provide health insurance to their employees or face a fine. Fifty-nine percent of voters in competitive Senate races oppose the "employer mandate," as do 60 percent of voters in competitive House races.

President Obama's proposal for a new government agency called the "Independent Medicare Advisory Council," which some fear would use its powers to deny payments for certain procedures that it deems unnecessary or futile, does not appear to sit well with crucial 2010 midterm voters.

Fifty-nine percent of voters in close 2010 Senate races oppose the creation of such an agency, while only 31 percent would support it. Sixty percent of voters in close 2010 House races oppose the idea, and just 29 percent support it.

Voters also oppose new taxes on employer-provided health care benefits. A whopping 77 percent of voters in 2010 Senate races oppose this tax, as do 80 percent of voters in 2010 House races.

Also tremendously unpopular is the notion of raising taxes to pay for a new government health insurance program to cover the roughly 26 million Americans who can afford to purchase health insurance (but choose not to purchase it for whatever reason) and the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. Seventy-seven percent of midterm Senate election voters oppose new taxes for such a program, and 76 percent of midterm House election voters are in opposition as well.

By now you're probably wondering if there are any ideas in the current health care debate that a majority of 2010 voters support. There are, but they are proposals that, unfortunately, the president and the Democratic leadership in Congress are loathe to promote.

An astounding 80 percent of voters in competitive 2010 Senate elections want Congress to pass tort reform and lower the cost of medical malpractice insurance. Seventy-eight percent of voters in competitive House races also want tort reform.

Also popular with 2010 voters is lifting current regulatory barriers and allowing people to purchase health insurance from providers located outside their home states. Eighty-two percent of voters in competitive Senate races support such a reform, as do 84 percent of voters in competitive House races.

Midterm elections are typically losers for the party occupying the White House. However, if certain incumbents fail to listen to their constituents on what is easily the most impassioned issue of the day, the bitterness could linger and there might be a sea change come November 2010.

By: Brad O'Leary
OpEd Contributor
The Washington Examiner

Brad O'Leary is publisher of "The O'Leary Report. To see more, go to http://www.olearyreport.com. Copyright 2009 The Washington Examiner.

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