16 March 2007

Strong support for universal health care in Colorado

When asked to choose between the present health care system based primarily on private insurance and “A universal health insurance program, in which everyone is covered equally under a program like Medicare that is financed by taxes and pays private health care providers for medical services,” fully 89 percent of Colorado respondents at the most recent Colorado Progressive Coalition's health care forum preferred the latter.

The coalition has been holding forums around Colorado, nearly a dozen now, to survey public opinion regarding health care in conjunction with spreading the news about Colorado's Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform (aka the 208 Commission).

The most recent was hosted by Fort Lupton City Councilman Robert McWilliams, and Mark Wallace, vice chairman of the 208 Commission.

This time around, although 78 percent of the participants had employer-sponsored health insurance, in the last two years 28 percent said they had to postpone medical care, 22 percent went without medical care, 72 percent worry about rising health care costs, and 40 percent worry about losing their health insurance. "These figures are striking for a well educated, middle class group," writes Francoise Mbabazi of the CPC in the press release of these numbers.

When asked about those without health insurance, forum attendees almost unanimously rejected the current system of relying on hospital emergency rooms to provide medical care to the uninsured. They also overwhelmingly favored using public health programs rather than private insurance to provide the uninsured with medical care. They strongly emphasized asking the recipients to pay for the cost, according to their ability.

When asked about the general principles on which health care should be based, they unanimously rejected the notion that “health care is a service like any other and should be left to the free market.” A majority (56 percent) believed that “health care, like education, is so vital to individuals and the community that it should be guaranteed to all,” and another 28 percent believed there should be “equal access to health care services for all” — a total of 84 percent who supported universal health care.

These responses are impressive — still more impressive is that they closely match the responses of the participants in other forums. "We have been surprised to find such a uniformity of opinion on health care among different groups in the public," writes Mbabazi. "This is especially evident in the agreement that health care is a right, in their greater faith in public rather than private insurance, and their overwhelming support for a universal health program."

The coalition warns that because the session was held during normal working hours, participants were not typical of the general public. Many attendees were active in the health care field, in a variety of positions.

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