The REAL public view on healthcare

Clever manipulation. In fact, what the American people hate is the lack of progress, the incessant back-and-forth, the gridlock. What the American people hate is watching the sausage being made, the side deals and horse trading, the refusal of the two parties to get together and pass a bill, the simple lack of action. Right now, 59 percent of Americans believe that the delays in passing a bill are more due to both sides playing politics and only 25 percent think it is more about Republicans and Democrats having policy disagreements.

Gillis Long, a former congressman from Louisiana, said it best: “Never underestimate the basic intelligence of the American voter, but never overestimate how much information they have.”

In this case, the many changes to the bill being considered, the complicated nature of the problem and solving it and the various parts of the legislation being proposed are a lot to absorb.

But let’s look at where we are right now and examine polling that does not come from either the Republicans or the Democrats.

In today’s Washington Post there is a very interesting question, as we approach the healthcare summit on Thursday, put forth by the Kaiser Family Foundation. How would you feel if Congress decides to stop work on healthcare reform and does not pass a law this year?

The results: 20 percent would be angry, 38 percent would be disappointed compared to 14 percent who would be happy and 24 percent who would be relieved. That is a 58 percent to 38 percent majority for moving forward rapidly.

Despite the Republicans’ harping on the false argument about “government-run healthcare,” the American people actually support most of what is in the legislation being discussed.

Just look at these numbers from recent Kaiser polls:

76 percent support reforming the way health insurance works
72 percent support tax credits for small businesses
71 percent support creating a health insurance exchange/marketplace
70 percent support expanding high risk insurance pools
68 percent support providing financial help for low-/middle-income people

And when it comes to preventing insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions and putting a cap on lifetime benefits, the numbers are off the charts — 37 percent believe that it is Extremely Important to put this into law, 39 percent believe it is Very Important and 15 percent believe Somewhat Important. That is 91 percent!!!

So let’s get real here on where we should proceed with Thursday’s summit.

We need a bill. Americans are demanding a bill. Inaction is not an option. For Republicans to maintain that Democrats and the president “are not listening” to the American people is totally false. The facts are clear: Americans support the particulars of the legislation; they want action, not gridlock; they believe it is the job of the Congress to get it done with the president’s leadership.

To be blunt, we hope that a number of Republicans will get on board and be part of the solution; we hope they will offer up more specific ideas this week; but if there is a continued effort to kill healthcare reform, then it is time to go to reconciliation and pass it without their support. The public wants it, the public needs it, and to cave to over-the-top rhetoric from Tea Party Republicans would be a disaster.