>An UPDATE on Health Care Reform Attitudes in NJ

>In our most recent poll at the end of February we asked a couple questions about health care reform. One was a version of the question we asked in November about whether or not reform is needed. Little has changed – most Garden Staters think reform is needed. We also asked whether the current bill should be passed, and here New Jerseyans give a big NO. Given the choice between starting over or passing the current bill, they want to start over, even though reform is important to them.

For the press release with tables, click HERE. The press release itself is below.


81 percent of respondents support change for a broken system that Congress should fix

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J – Support for health care reform remains strong in New Jersey, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll that finds 81 percent of residents say the health care system needs to be changed. Only 17 percent believe the current system works well enough.

At the same time, given a choice between passing the current health care bill and starting over, more than two-thirds believe Congress should start crafting new legislation.

“Despite the limited progress that health care reform has made in Washington, the desire for change remains very strong in New Jersey,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “The vast majority sees the need for change, but has soured on the bill under debate in Congress.”

The poll of 953 New Jersey adults was conducted Feb. 19-22 with a margin of error of +/-3.2 percentage points.

Change Worth taking a risk

Most New Jerseyans (70 percent) believe changing the health care system is worth whatever risk it may carry, while only 25 percent say that change is too risky. Five percent are not sure. Of those favoring change, 82 percent believe the risk is worthwhile; only 13 percent think it would be too risky to do so. Among the small group of adults who think the system works well, 75 percent say making a change would be too risky.

“There is real pressure for health care reform,” said Redlawsk. “A solid majority believes the current system needs to be fixed and it is worth the risk to pass a bill. There has been remarkably little change in opinion on the need for reform since early November, despite the debate inside and outside of Washington.”
That Rutgers-Eagleton Poll reported that 63 percent of New Jerseyans thought the health care system “could work better” and 88 percent said “change is needed.”

Change yes, current bill no

While Garden Staters are willing to risk health care reform, they feel strongly that Congress should and come up with a new bill. Only 22 percent say Congress should pass the current reform proposals, while 68 percent want the lawmakers to start over. More than half of Democrats want to begin anew, along with 60 percent of independents and 91 percent of Republicans. Only 37 percent of Democrats want passage of the current proposal. Of those favoring a fresh look at reform by Congress, 62 percent think the risk is worthwhile. Almost a third (31 percent) calls it too risky.

Two-thirds of those backing health care system reform, however, still say Congress should start on new legislation. Only 24 percent think the bill should be passed as is. A larger group (74 percent) of those who say the current health care system works well enough believes lawmakers should introduce a new bill, compared to only 18 percent favoring the proposed legislation.

“The interesting finding is despite the strong interest in change and the willingness to say change is worth the risk it brings, New Jerseyans still want Congress to start over,” Redlawsk said. “To most New Jerseyans, the current health care process has resulted in a bill they just do not believe is worth passing.”

Reform continues to be important to Garden State residents

Compared to the November Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, Garden State residents are just as likely to say health care reform is very or somewhat important to them now. The new poll finds 58 percent call health care reform very important, and 27 percent say it is somewhat important. In the November poll, 60 percent said reform was very important and 26 percent said it was somewhat important.

An overwhelming majority – 90 percent – of residents who call health care very important also believe the system must be changed. Similarly, respondents who feel health care reform is very important value the potential payoff, with 76 percent thinking the risk is worthwhile. At the same time, nearly two-thirds of this group is just as likely as others to think Congress should propose new legislation.


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