Most Americans want a national healthcare program to cover everyone, not just 95% of the people, according to an Associated Press poll.
The poll was taken July 20-24, just after President Clinton's suggestion-quickly disavowed by the White House-that "95% or upwards" might be enough to fit his definition of universal coverage.
Seventy-four percent of those surveyed say the system should give all Americans insurance that covers all necessary care. Women, blacks, people born in the 1940s and those from lower-middle-class families are especially likely to support the idea.
However, the feeling that the healthcare system must be changed has slipped, from 83% in an AP poll in January to 69% last month. Those saying the current system works rose to 28% from 17%.
ICR Survey Research Group of Media, Pa., part of AUS Consultants, polled 1,000 adults by telephone. Results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Polls show Americans divided on age, race, income and party lines about many aspects of how to pay for health reform.
But those divisions are virtually absent among the 58% who say it is unacceptable to make a health plan more affordable by covering only 95% of Americans.
Just 36% say it is acceptable to limit costs by leaving out one in 20 Americans, or 5%. The Senate Finance Committee has approved a plan that would achieve an estimated 95% coverage. Several competing plans provide greater or lesser coverage.
Clinton's overall plan is opposed by 51% to 33%, a reversal from January, when 51% favored the plan. In the current poll, 7% say they favor only parts of the plan, 8% say they're not familiar enough to know, and 1% are uncertain.
Clinton has proposed that employers pick up 80% of the cost of coverage for workers and their families. Republicans are fighting the so-called employer mandate.
The poll shows Americans split, with 48% saying employers should be required to pay most of the costs of health insurance for all their workers, and 46% saying employers should only be required to offer their workers a chance to buy their own health insurance. The rest don't know.
Even among those who favor the Clinton plan, 37% oppose the employer mandate.