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Cronkite/Eight Poll: Most Arizonans happy with their insurance but want health care revamped

Most Arizonans think the U.S. health care system needs revamping even though the majority are satisfied with the health insurance they have, according to a Cronkite/Eight Poll released Tuesday (Sept. 29).

Fifty percent of those surveyed said the health care system needs major changes and 31 percent said minor changes would do, while 12 percent said the system is fine as is.

Bruce Merrill, a retired Arizona State University professor who directs the poll, said the response mirrors what people are saying about health care reform across the country.

“Most people know the system is broken and needs changes,” he said.

State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, said the results show that people want Congress to act.

“The biggest problem is we don’t have enough people with health care,” said Sinema, who serves on a group of state lawmakers advising the Obama administration on the issue.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they are very satisfied or generally satisfied with their health insurance, while 15 percent were somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. Seven percent had no opinion.

The president has made overhauling health care his administration’s chief focus. However, the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday rejected a key part of that plan: having the government offer health insurance.

Asked about that proposal, often referred to as a public option, 57 percent of poll respondents said they don’t have enough information to form an opinion. Twenty-five percent said they favor a public option, and 18 percent said they oppose it.

Jon Ford, associate director of communication for St. Luke’s Health Initiatives, said many people feel disconnected from the health care system and don’t understand it. Without a strong understanding of the issues, it’s difficult to have an informed discussion, he said.

“One of the major issues we deal with is how to engage people constructively without it turning into ‘pulling the plug on grandma,’” he said.

Fifty-three percent of respondents said they disapprove of Obama’s handling of health care reform, while 38 percent said they approve. Nine percent didn’t have an opinion.

The poll, conducted Sept. 24 to Sept. 27 by ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Eight/KAET, involved 724 registered Arizona voters. It has a sampling error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

The Cronkite School operates the Cronkite News Service.

The poll also found that:

- Fewer Arizonans now support Gov. Jan Brewer’s push for a temporary sales tax increase to help bridge the state’s budget deficit. Fifty-one percent favored the plan and 41 percent opposed it, while 8 percent didn’t have an opinion. In April, the poll found 60 percent in favor and 35 percent opposed.

- Thirty-seven percent said they approve and 37 percent said they disapprove of the job Brewer is doing as governor. Twenty-six percent didn’t have an opinion.

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