Monday, November 23, 2009

Survey says...

Today we closed our reader poll on health care reform. Here's an analysis of how visitors to answered the question, "Do you favor health care reform..."

41 percent: I don't wish to change the health care system in any way.
26 percent: if it provides health care to everyone in America
17 percent: if it includes a public option and excludes abortion funding.
16: only if it excludes funding for abortion.

One could read much into the responses of each group. But be cautious: only a total of 291 votes were cast in the poll.

Still, the largest group (118 votes, or 41 percent) would prefer no change in health care at all. It may be discomforting for those without health care to know that even though the U.S. Bishops worked to get a bill through the House that excludes abortion funding and provides affordable care to 96 percent of Americans, a large block of Americans oppose any tinkering with the system, especially a plan run by the government.

I had dinner with a friend who's in his third decade serving in the Army Reserves. When he says, "The government can't run anything," I'm inclined to agree. Whether a public option in some form is the way toward a more just way to deliver health care to those who need it, I don't know.

The bishops don't say definitively whether they favor a public option. They do make priorities of affordability, broader access, care for immigrants (and they're almost alone in calling for it) and of course, the status quo on abortion as a minimum.

On the last point, the fewest votes in our poll came for the position closest to the bishops: favoring reform only if it excludes abortion funding. From this chair, the bishops' points make the most sense. Fortunately they won the day in the House.

In the Senate it's a different story. Those exclusions currently are missing from the Senate bill, so a lot of work remains.

Amendments will be added and deleted until Christmas at least, with a final vote expected to come in January. Until then, keep the emails and phone calls churning out to senators. Here are key points from the bishops to keep you on message.

Health care reform is important to the Church (if not some of its members). Any final legislation must reflect Catholic principles of fairness and justice, especially for the unborn persons without a voice in this debate.

For a change of pace after all that, try our new poll on a more eternal topic: the beginning of Advent.

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