Public Opinion Sours on Health Care Reform, Polls Show

By Fred Lucas | July 30, 2009 | 7:37 PM EDT

President Barack Obama purchases a piece of fruit after a town hall meeting on health care reform, Wednesday, July 29, 2009, at a Kroger Supermarket in Bristol, Va. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

White House ( – While conservative-leaning Democrats in the House of Representatives pushed for compromises in the health insurance reform legislation this week, the plan hit other stumbling blocks in terms of public opinion.
In the last month, at least three polls show a majority or plurality opposing the health care reform package supported by President Barack Obama. The White House proposal would establish a government-run program (“public option”) to compete with private insurers and place mandates on employers to provide coverage, at a projected cost of $1 trillion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll this week showed that 46 percent disapproved of Obama’s handling of health care reform, while 41 percent approved.
A Rasmussen poll last week showed worse numbers, with 53 percent opposing the Obama-backed plan. That is up from 45 percent opposed in June.
“As in earlier surveys, those with strong opinions are more likely to oppose the plan rather than support it,” the Rasmussen poll summary said. “The current numbers: 24 percent strongly favor and 37 percent strongly oppose.”
Meanwhile, a Fox News poll found that 45 percent think their quality of health care would be worse under the Democratic plan; 58 percent think health care reform would cost them money; 91 percent say they have health insurance and 84 percent rate that health coverage as excellent or good.
This is no cause of concern for the president, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Thursday.
“I think there has been a lot of misinformation about the legislation,” Gibbs said. “I think some of it unintentional. Some of it, as we've talked about in this room, I think somewhat intentional.”
Gibbs said the White House does not poll.
“The president isn’t fixated on the ups and downs in polling,” Gibbs said. “If we were, we’d have quit two years ago this summer, if ever even run for president.”
“Obviously, we've been having a series of these debates for decades,” he said. “I think many of the same lines of attack that you see in some cases being used today are the same that were used as we debated the creation of Medicare -- you know, big government-run health care program, doctors won't be able to make decisions.”
The polling numbers on health care reform come as Obama’s approval rating is dropping, particularly among middle-class voters.