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Health Care Poll: Americans Want Change

by EDM Staff

A just-released Harris Interactive Poll should strongly encourage Democratic candidates to support a broad range of health care reforms. The poll, conducted 9/6-12, measured attitudes of Americans of different faiths on a dozen health and health care-related issues, and found scant support for conservative or status quo health care policies, except among 'born-again Christians' and evangelicals. According to the poll:

Medicare (health insurance for the elderly and disabled). Fully 96 percent of adults support Medicare, including 92 percent or more of all religious categories.

Birth control/contraception is supported by 93 percent of all adults, including 90 percent of Catholics and 88 percent of born-again Christians, the "very religious" and Evangelicals.

Condom use to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases is supported by 92 percent of adults, including 93 percent of Catholics, 82 percent of born-again Christians, 83 percent of the "very religious" and 81 percent of Evangelicals.

Medicaid (health insurance for people with very low incomes) is supported by 91 percent of all adults, including 88 percent of all religious categories.

Sex education in high schools is supported by 87 percent of the public, but only by 76 percent of born-again Christians, 77 percent of the "very religious" and 72 percent of Evangelicals.

Funding of international HIV prevention and treatment programs is supported by 87 percent of the public, including not less than 82 percent of all religious categories.

Universal health insurance is favored by 75 percent of all adults, including 63 percent or more of all religious groups.

Embryonic stem cell research is favored by 70 percent of all adults, including 70 percent of Catholics. However, it is supported by only 45 percent of born-again Christians, 38 percent of Evangelicals and 51 percent of the "very religious."

Funding of international birth control programs is supported by 70 percent of the public, including 66 percent of Catholics, but only 53 percent of born-again Christians and 48 percent of Evangelicals.

Withdrawal of life support systems/food for those in a vegetative state is supported by 68 percent of the public, but by only 47 percent of born-again Christians and 45 percent of Evangelicals.

Abortion rights (which were not defined) are supported by 63 percent of the public, including 56 percent of Catholics, but by only 30 percent of born-again Christians, 39 percent of the "very religious" and 28 percent of Evangelicals.

Abstinence from sex before marriage is supported by 63 percent of the public, but by fully 85 percent of born-again Christians, 85 percent of the "very religious" and 91 percent of Evangelicals.

Interestingly, the views of Catholics were not significantly dissimilar from other groups:

...the attitudes of Catholics are generally very similar to those of all adults and, on some issues, very unlike the official position of the Pope and the Church. For example, overwhelming majorities of Catholics favor contraception (90%), condom use to prevent HIV and STD infections (93%), the funding of international birth control programs (66%), embryonic stem cell research (70%) and the withdrawal of life support for those in a vegetative state (68%). A majority (56%) also supports abortion rights.

The poll did not measure the opinions of Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists. And the report was unclear as to whether "universal health insurance" was defined for respondents as covering all illnesses and all expenses. Taken together with recent polls discussed in EDM posts by Ruy Teixeira on September 10th and 16th, it is clear that Democratic candidates have little to lose by supporting bold health care reforms --- and a lot to win.