The topic of healthcare reform has been omnipresent this past year as it is the top domestic objective for President Obama. But what do the residents of the Tri-County Area think? Methodist Medical Center sponsored a poll of 300 residents of Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties on January 19th and 20th to find out. Ironically, the poll began on the day of Scott Brown’s upset victory in Massachusetts’s U.S. Senate race, which was at least partially attributed to the healthcare issue. Some of the key findings include:
- A surprising number of people are not paying attention, including those who benefit. Thirty-six percent of Tri-County residents have not been following the debate in healthcare very closely. This is surprising, given healthcare reform is potentially the most far-reaching social legislation since the 1960s. As expected, older residents are more likely to be engaged than younger residents.
- Those who are paying attention do not like what they see. Overall, residents are closely divided on whether healthcare reform will pass. However, among those who are following the debate very closely, 49 percent strongly oppose the legislation.
- Philosophical disagreement. Much like the recent televised debate between President Obama and Congressional leaders, the disagreement comes down to the residents’ views toward the role of the federal government in healthcare.
- There remains much doubt whether healthcare reform will accomplish its objectives. Supporters believe it will improve quality and reduce costs, and will not impact people’s choice of doctors and hospitals. Tri-County residents are skeptical that healthcare reform will improve the quality of care and do not believe that healthcare reform will reduce costs, but accept that healthcare reform will not impact their choice of physician or hospital.
- Tri-County residents support major provisions of expanding healthcare reform but are opposed to most ways of paying for it. Tri-County residents favor only one of the proposed ways to pay for reform: by raising taxes on individuals who make more than $500,000 per year or families that make more than $1 million per year. Residents strongly oppose cutting Medicare to pay for health reform. Interestingly, the public option is favored by 46 percent of residents, with only 31 percent opposed.
- More Tri-County residents think healthcare reform will hurt central Illinois than help it. While 46 percent of residents do not believe there will be any impact, 25 percent believe the region will be worse off, and only 18 percent think the region will be better off.
The summary of information and breakdown into various subsets is very interesting. Our friends and neighbors in the Tri-County region reflect, in general, the same concerns as the rest of the country. They are ambivalent about healthcare reform and skeptical that it will achieve its intended purpose. As residents become more aware and follow the healthcare debate more closely, their opposition increases.
It appears that President Obama and the Democrats are moving forward with their agenda. We’ll see what happens! iBi