Concern rising, faith falling regarding health care

Cameras caught the smiles on faces of those who secured a “win” in the massive tax revision package. What didn’t the cameras catch? Cheering throngs of supporters flocking to the streets of Washington to celebrate what the winners called the biggest tax cut ever — $1.5 trillion.

That’s because those winning folks from the hinderlands weren’t there. Could there be a disconnect? A new poll shines light on why that is. Simply put, the survey finds Americans are increasingly concerned about health care, and that their faith that government can fix it has fallen.

The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that 48 percent named health care as a top problem for the country. No other issue — from taxes to immigration — was rated as a high-level concern by more than 31 percent.

What’s more, 7 in 10 of those who named health care as a top problem said they had little to no confidence that government can make it better. The public was much less pessimistic in last year’s edition of the poll, with just over half saying at the time they lacked confidence in government.

Based on what the government has done about health care, it’s no wonder. The president initially promised his own plan that would deliver “insurance for everybody” and “great” health care, “much less expensive and much better.” But the White House never released a health care proposal.

Legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare failed, although the tax bill scraps the requirement that most people get health insurance. Bloodied on both sides, Republicans and Democrats seem to have battled to an uneasy draw on health care.

Meanwhile, conflicting policy signals from Washington, including an abrupt White House decision to cancel insurer subsidies, roiled insurance markets. Premiums on health plans purchased by individuals jumped by double digits. Progress reducing the number of uninsured stalled, and one major survey found an uptick this year.

Three in 10 Americans listed taxes among their top priorities, about double the percentage who said that last year. About a quarter mentioned immigration, and just under 2 in 10 mentioned environmental issues and education. Meanwhile, concerns about unemployment plunged to 14 percent, about half the mentions as last year.

Nearly 2 in 3 said they were pessimistic about the state of politics in the U.S. About half were downbeat about the nation’s system of government, and 55 percent said America’s best days are behind.

As for all those winning smiles: When there are winners, there also are losers. When they get sore, they’re going to want health care.

— From the Maryville Daily Times