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With a big meeting at the White House scheduled for health care reform, Republicans have been marshaling their best arguments against the Democratic proposals.
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., discussed the meeting, set for Feb. 25, 2010, on Fox News.
"President Obama seems intent on the other hand of ramming his agenda through, no matter what," Kyl told Greta Van Susteren. "One of the problems with that is that the American people have said that isn't what they want in health care reform."
"I think you have to listen to the American people," Kyl added. "One of the most recent polls said 75 percent of the American people have said either don't do anything or start over."
We've been fascinated with health care polls since Democrats started moving forward with legislation in 2009. Several reputable polls indicate people aren't sure what's actually in the bills, which regulate private insurers more heavily, require people to have health insurance and offer tax credits to small businesses and people with low incomes. Our favorite poll question involved a proposal put forward by the more liberal members of the Democratic caucus: the public option. A Vanity Fair/60 Minutes poll asked, "In the health care debate, there's been much back-and-forth over the so-called public option. Could you confidently explain what exactly the public option is to someone who didn’t know?" Two-thirds said they couldn't.
In reviewing the more recent polls on health care, most show that a narrow majority of the public opposes the current plans, though a few polls show a roughly even split.
Still, we were interested in Kyl's statement that 75 percent of respondents said do nothing or start over. We asked Kyl's staff about the number but didn't hear back, so we started looking around on our own.
We soon found a CNN poll conducted at the end of January that asked the question, "What do you think Congress should do on health care -- pass a health care bill similar to the legislation that Congress has been working on for the past year, start work on an entirely new bill, or stop working on any bills that would change the country's health care system?"
The poll found that 48 percent said "start a new bill," while 21 percent said "stop working on health care." Add those together and you get 69 percent, which is not far from 75 percent. (And 30 percent said Congress should pass one of the current proposals.)
The CNN poll also showed that 58 percent oppose the current proposals, while 38 percent favor them. (This leads to the odd conclusion that some people, about 8 percent, favor the current proposals but also want Congress to start over.)
Democratic analysts have claimed that some of the opposition to health care found in the poll numbers comes from Democrats who believe the current proposals don't go far enough. That may be so, but we're not ruling on that here.
For our rating, Kyl was careful in how he phrased his statement. He said, "One of the most recent polls said 75 percent of the American people have said either don't do anything or start over." We found a recent poll that put those two categories at 69 percent. That's a little short, but pretty close. We rate his statement Mostly True.
Fox News, Interview with Sen. Jon Kyl, Feb. 20, 2010, accessed via CQ Transcripts
CNN.com, Poll: Half say start anew on health care bill and poll questions, Jan. 29, 2010
Pollster.com, Health Care Plan: Favor/Oppose, accessed Feb. 23, 2010
Kaiser Family Foundation, Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, January and February 2010
PollingReport.com, Health Policy, accessed Feb. 23, 2010
FiveThirtyEight.com, Health care
The Vanity Fair/60 Minutes poll, the public option, Nov. 6 - 8, 2009
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