Paul Krugman doesn’t like the Rasmussen poll on the popularity of health reform in Massachusetts. I’ve cited that poll in the past, so I have an obligation to present contradictory information. Besides, when Krugman talks, I listen. Since many people consider the reform we’re likely to get similar to that which was enacted in that state, it’s an important issue.
Krugman cites the Boston Globe/Harvard School of Public Health poll and finds this to be its essential conclusion: ” 79 percent want (reform) to continue.” That’s much stronger than the tepid support in the Rasmussen bill, and it’s important.
I had a somewhat different interpretation, however, when I read the write-up in the Globe that Prof. Krugman cites. “79 percent of those surveyed wanted the law to continue,” the article says, “though a majority said there should be some changes, with cost reductions cited as the single most important change that needs to be made.”
Then there’s this: “In another question, residents were nearly evenly split over whether Massachusetts could afford to continue with the law as it stands: 43 percent said the state could not, and 40 percent said it could.“
Lastly, the money quote (literally): “A national survey by Kaiser released this month found that Massachusetts has the most expensive family health insurance premiums in the country, averaging $13,788 in 2008.”
Some of us knew that already, but it’s important to repeat it in this context.
Granted, the Senate bill has more cost containment in it that the original Massachusetts bill, especially in the latest draft (and thanks in part to progressive opposition to the bill, in my opinion.) But I still think it’s weak on cost controls, and that many people are wildly overestimating the effect of those that it does contain. But it’s worth noting that many of the bill’s proponents have been touting the idea that mandates themselves will help keep premiums under control. I think that argument has been seriously undercut by results in Massachusetts.