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Poll: Americans OK with more government health care influence

  • Story Highlights
  • Poll: 63 percent willing to trade more federal influence for lower costs
  • More than 6 in 10 say government should guarantee health care
  • Expert says things have changed since Clinton's health care push
By Paul Steinhauser
CNN Deputy Political Director
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A national poll indicates that most Americans are receptive to having more government influence over their health care in return for lower costs and more coverage.

Congress may take up health care reform this year.

Congress may take up health care reform this year.

Sixty-three percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Friday said they would favor an increase in the federal government's influence over their own health care plans in an attempt to lower costs and provide coverage to more Americans; 36 percent were opposed.

The poll also suggests that slightly more than six out of 10 think the government should guarantee health care for all Americans, with 38 percent opposed.

But Americans appear to be split over raising taxes to increase coverage. Forty-seven percent of those questioned support raising taxes in order to provide health insurance to all Americans.

An equal amount back the idea of keeping taxes at current levels but not providing health insurance for all Americans.

"Will the health-care debate be different this time?" CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider asked. "It does look like public sentiment has shifted. But government does not seem to be the bugaboo it was 15 years ago, when a major push by the Clinton administration to reform and expand health care failed."

The poll indicates a partisan split. Democrats overwhelmingly support increased government influence over their health-care coverage in return for lower costs and great coverage for more Americans. Six out of 10 independents feel the same way, but only one in four Republicans agrees.

"Opposition to President Barack Obama's health-care plan is ideological. It comes from Republicans and conservatives. You are not hearing a lot of opposition right now from the business community and the health care industry," Schneider said.

The poll's release comes three days before Congress returns from a one-week break. Health care reform will be near the top of the agenda for lawmakers as they head back to Capitol Hill.

The poll also comes one day after Obama urged supporters to turn up the pressure on lawmakers regarding health care reform, telling them that "if we don't get it done this year, we're not going to get it done."

Health care reform didn't go very far under President Clinton. The current president thinks things will be different now.

"Something else is different this time," Schneider said. "A lot of businesses and insurance companies are working with the Obama administration on health-care reform. They don't want to pay the costs any more."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was conducted May 14-17, with 1,010 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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