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Polls? We Have Polls

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Employers and their employees seem to have different views about the health system debates now under way in Washington.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Menlo Park, Calif., has released results of a survey showing that public support for major health system changes is lower but still strong.

Researchers interviewed 1,200 U.S. residents ages 18 and older between July and July 14.

About 56% of the participants said they believe that health reform is more important than ever, despite the recession, down from 61% in June.

Support for major changes is strong even though only 39% of participants believe changes would make their own families better off, and 32% believe reform would make no difference for their families.

But the percentage of participants said passage of a health care reform bill would make things worse for their own families has increased to 21%, from 11% in February, and 54% of the participants said they worry that Congress and President Obama will pass a bill that’s bad for the participants’ own families.

The percentage of participants who said the country would be worse off if health care reform passes rose to 23%, from 12%.

Another group, the American Benefits Council, Washington, worked with Miller & Chevalier Chartered, Washington, to conduct a survey of about 200 large and small U.S. employers.

About 82% of the participating employers said they want maintain the current system of having employer contributions for employee health coverage excluded from the employee’s income.

When asked to rank various approaches to the federal government’s role in a reformed health care system, Republicans and Democrats alike said that while they support expansion of programs to help the poor and believe there is a positive role for the government to play, they overwhelmingly oppose creating a new government plan: although 56% support the idea of government helping with choices among private plans, and 42% support expanding the government safety net, and just 11% support the concept of having a government plan compete directly with private insurers.

About 92% of the participating employers said they support the provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act that preempt states’ ability to regulate group health plans with 50 or more participants.


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