February 22nd, 2010
06:11 PM ET

CNN Fact Check: Have Americans turned their backs on overhauling health care?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/POLITICS/01/09/white.house.emails/art.white.house.cnn.jpg caption="The White House laid out a plan on Monday to bridge the gap between Senate and Congress health care bills."]

Matt Smith

The Obama administration's attempt to restart its push for an overhaul of the U.S. health insurance system Monday was met with an increasingly common refrain from congressional Republicans: Americans hate it.

The framework the White House laid out Monday is an effort to bridge the gap between bills the Senate and the House of Representatives passed last year.

But Republicans, who are preparing for a televised health care summit with President Barack Obama on Thursday, have urged Democrats to scrap both bills and start over.

House Minority Leader John Boehner said the plan is "based on a partisan bill the American people have already rejected." His Senate counterpart, Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, said Democrats "either aren't listening, or are completely ignoring what Americans across the country have been saying." And California Rep. Wally Herger, the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means health subcommittee, said Obama "is continuing to ignore that the American people have fundamentally rejected this bill."

Fact Check: How popular are the health care bills?

- The top-line numbers on most polls bear out the GOP assertion. A CNN poll conducted in late January by Opinion Research Corp. found support for health care proposals at 38 percent, with 58 percent opposition; other surveys taken recently show public opinion leaning against the measure by spreads ranging from 3 to 19 percentage points.

- But when pollsters ask more detailed questions, some of the opposition turns out to come not from conservatives, but from liberals who consider the proposed legislation too timid. A CNN-Opinion Research poll in early January found that 45 percent of respondents opposed the bill because it was too liberal, while 10 percent said it wasn't liberal enough.

- And when pollsters ask people for their opinions of elements the bill includes, support tends to go up. CNN's January 8-10 poll found 54 percent of those surveyed support creating a government-run health plan that would compete with private insurers. And 61 percent said they would rather see the plan paid for by taxes on wealthy Americans, as the bill that passed the House of Representatives would levy. Only 29 percent supported the more conservative Senate bill's plan to tax high-end health insurance plans.

- In addition, a Newsweek poll published last week found that 49-40 percent opposition to the Obama plan became 48-43 percent support when respondents were told what the bill included. And an ABC News-Washington Post poll released February 10 found up to 80 percent support for one feature of the White House plan: Barring insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Bottom Line:

Polling suggests GOP leaders are technically correct in calling the health care reform bills broadly unpopular. But more detailed surveys reveal individual elements of the proposed overhauls remain more popular than the idea of "reform" as a whole.

Got something that needs checking? E-mail us at factcheck@cnn.com

Filed under: Health Care • President Barack Obama
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