Trust, Sacrifice, and Public Support for Health Care Reform
Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 22 Aug 2011
Date Written: 2011
This paper analyzes the puzzle of deteriorating public support for health care reform. Using a unique series of tracking polls, we argue that declining support for health care reform was a function of three distinct trends in public opinion. First, we find that trust in government fell precipitously during 2009, leading many Americans to question whether government was up to the challenge of implementing a national health plan. Second, more Americans came to believe that health care reform would require them to make material sacrifices. Third, we observe that conservatism became a significantly more attractive ideological label for Americans, which increased the percentage of people who perceived that health care would require an ideological sacrifice of them. Collectively, our analysis demonstrates, these trends contributed to the erosion of public support for health care reform and made the idea of a national health plan unpalatable to a larger segment of the American public.
Keywords: trust, sacrifice, health care
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