Blog: Not exactly a ringing endorsement

Elections have consequences, right?

Although Democrats and their allied organizations have spent the weeks since the Nov. 6 election crowing that President Barack Obama's re-election decisively endorsed his approach to healthcare policy, some polls might cloud that picture.

For instance, a new Gallup poll taken after the election found a first-time outright majority opposing the federal government ensuring all Americans have health insurance. Fifty-four percent of Americans opposed such a government role, while 44% supported it.

The opposition to such federal action has grown 23 percentage points since 2000, while support for it plummeted by 22 percentage points. The drop in support for a federal health coverage role included a 10 percentage point decline since just 2008.

The drop comes as the federal government is set to mandate coverage for most Americans for the first time beginning in a little more than a year, as well as funding much of the cost of the expansion in coverage to around 30 million more Americans.

The Gallup findings also come as the Obama administration and provider groups are loudly urging hesitant Republican governors to both create state-run health insurance and expand their Medicaid programs to provide that expanded coverage.

Meanwhile, the state-level healthcare fight echoes a brewing federal battle over Medicare and Medicaid's role in any massive deal that eliminates looming tax increases and spending cuts while reducing annual federal deficits. Democrats in Washington have insisted that the election rejected Republican proposals to overhaul both programs in favor of an approach that makes selective cuts (mostly to providers) while waiting for efficiencies from the healthcare overhaul to go into effect.

In that fight, Democrats opposed to increases in Medicare's eligibility age appear to have the upper hand, according to an ABC News/Washington Post survey (PDF) out this week. A decisive 67% opposed increasing the eligibility age from 65 to 67.

Such poll findings could ironically boost Democrats on the issue against Obama, who reportedly supported an increase in the eligibility age during debt negotiations last year—before the talks broke down over an impasse on tax increases.

Even in the wake of an election, such polls also could have consequences.

You can follow Rich Daly on Twitter @MHRDaly.



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