One hears that "the people" have spoken and that the recent legislation on national health insurance should be repealed. In fact, responding to "the people" is like aiming at a moving target.
If one goes to pollingreport.com/health.htm and reads through the numerous polls on the health-insurance legislation, no unified voice can be found. One recent poll, the CBS poll of Nov. 11, found 45 percent of respondents saying repeal health care reform and 44 percent saying no, with 11 percent undecided. And all the polls have a somewhat similar story of an almost equally divided populace.
National poll data itself could be off by as much as 3 percent in either direction. This means that a poll showing 49 percent against and 48 percent for, may actually be the reverse, given the 3 percent margin of error.
Even the way questions are asked is relevant to what we know about the people's opinions. For example, in one poll, more than 70 percent of the respondents supported keeping the tax credits for health insurance for small businesses, the provision to close the doughnut hole for Medicare prescriptions, the provision to provide help to low- and moderate-income Americans to purchase insurance and the prohibition against denying coverage because of a person's medical history or health condition.
The message from "the people" on health insurance is also cloudy in some other aspects.
In a national poll during the pre-election days, 39 percent said how a candidate voted on the health care legislation would have no effect on their vote. In another poll in the beginning of October, when asked which party can be trusted the most with regard to health insurance, 46 percent of the respondents indicated that the Democrats are trusted more than the Republicans to do a better job handling health care. Only 38 percent indicated the Republicans could be trusted more.
So, what can we really conclude about "the people"?
We can conclude that even when one party trounces the other party in an election, the message is not necessarily that a major revision or repeal of recently passed legislation is sought by a substantial majority of the people and may not even be sought by a simple majority.
By GARY MARIS, DeLand