The New York Times and CBS News recently polled the US public.
After a long list of questions that confused any distinction between health care and health coverage, the New York Times/CBS asked:
"Do you think it would be fair or unfair for the government in Washington to require all Americans to participate in a national health care plan, funded by taxpayers?"
By 48 to 43 percent, respondents said: unfair. But a strong majority had already said they thought it was very important for the government to cover everyone, even if it meant raising taxes. What was seen as unfair here, for some people, was almost certainly the national health care plan, which sounds like something more than a national health coverage plan. In fact it sounds like Walter Reed Hospital.
The New York Times article reporting on the poll quoted one respondent who obviously thought national health care, not just coverage, was being discussed:
"I think everybody should have some kind of health care available to them," said Diane Manning, 66, of Vancouver, Wash., who described herself as an independent. "I don't necessarily think that socialized medicine is the answer, but I think everyone should have that right," said Ms. Manning, who participated in the poll and agreed to a follow-up interview "And there are so many people that don't."
Then the New York Times/CBS asked:
"Which do you think would be better for the country: 1. Having one health insurance program covering all Americans that would be administered by the government and paid for by taxpayers, OR 2. Keeping the current system where many people get their insurance from private employers and some have no insurance?"
By 47 to 38 percent, even following the question above, Americans said they preferred one government plan, a concept for which there is actually a name: Single Payer Health Coverage.
Then the New York Times/CBS asked about a mish-mash, for-profit, quasi-universal, Hillaryesque, please everyone, leave the unemployed behind approach:
"Some people have suggested requiring all Americans to have health insurance. Under this plan, employers would be required to provide insurance for all their workers or pay into a fund that would be used to buy insurance for people who do not have insurance. Does this sound like a good idea to you, a bad idea or are you unsure?"
Unsure won with 46 percent.
The New York Times article that reported on the poll results got the opening paragraph right:
"A majority of Americans say the federal government should guarantee health insurance to every American, especially children, and are willing to pay higher taxes to do it, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll."
But when it came to the questions I've quoted above, the New York Times spun the responses thusly:
"An overwhelming majority said the health care system needed either fundamental change or to be completely rebuilt, just as they did in the early 1990s, when a deep recession and soaring health care costs galvanized the public and spurred the Clinton health care drive. But now, as then, this concern did not translate into a consensus on what should replace it.
"One question offered a choice between the current system and a national health insurance program covering everyone, administered by the government and financed by taxpayers. Thirty-eight percent said they preferred the current system, while 47 percent preferred a government-run approach."
[What would count as a consensus? We NEVER have results that decisive in elections.]
"Nearly half said they thought it would be unfair to require all Americans to participate in a national health care plan, financed by taxpayers."
[How do you require someone to no longer pay for their health care and to choose whatever doctors they like? What's the "requirement"? The higher taxes? Those could be paid by businesses, or by taking a week's vacation for the war.]
"Robert Blendon, an expert at Harvard on public opinion and health, said politicians have to find some compromise between these philosophical divisions on the role of government, which are deep-seated in American culture, or 'We're going to have the same train wreck we did before.'"
[No, the train wreck was a "compromise." Politicians have to put people ahead of insurance companies by looking to the solution that every other wealthy nation has arrived at.]
"The Clinton plan, itself an attempt at a compromise, collapsed under the weight of attacks from an array of interests, including the insurance industry, which warned that it amounted to a big government takeover. Mr. Blendon noted that many politicians, like Mr. Schwarzenegger, were seeking a blend between the private market and the government in their health plans."
[But that is what Hillary Clinton tried, and the polling does not support it, it will never pass since both the public and the insurance companies will oppose it, and if passed it will not work since the for-profit insurance companies will still be in charge and continue to drive up costs, increase waste, and reduce services.]