Saturday, March 24, 2007

The SEIU Health Care Forum in Las Vegas: Polls, Webcast and More

In preparation for the health care forum in Las Vegas today, hosted by the SEIU and the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a conference call for reporters and bloggers was held earlier this week. During this call Andy Stern of the SEIU and John Podesta, former Chief of Staff of President Bill Clinton and now head of the Center for American Progress, outlined their thoughts on the upcoming forum and on how best to achieve universal health care.

Andy Stern stressed that a solution to the health care crisis is in everybody's interest as "American business will pay more for health care they make in profit" this year. Therfore, this presidential campaign should be about the issues, not about "glitz and glamour."

John Podesta noted his "battle scars" from 1994 when he worked in the White House during the Clinton's effort to achieve universal health care. He noted that the ranks of the uninsured are rising and that there are now 7 million more uninsured than in 2000. He sees today's forum as "a critical next step" saying that he has "high hopes that what happens in Las Vegas will leave Las Vegas and set the tone for the presidential campaign."

Also on the call was Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners who conducted a poll in the four early primary and caucus states regarding health care. The poll asked 400 voters in each state about their attitude towards health care. While the overall picture did look pretty good for universal health care, I was a little disturbed by the sample. 400 voters in one state is not the best sample and when you break it down into half Democrats and half Republicans, the margin of error is just insane.

Nonetheless, here are some numbers from Nevada:

Thinking specifically about the economy, what are you personally worried about the most?

Rising health care costs 39%
Higher taxes 23%
Secure Retirement 19%

The 225 million dollars a day being spent in Iraq would be better spent investing in affordable health care for every American here at home.

Strongly agree 48%
Not strongly agree 19%
Not strongly disagree 12%
Strongly disagree 18%

Who do you think would be the BEST president on the issue of health care?

Hillary Clinton 34%
John Edwards 16%
Barack Obama 9%
Bill Richardson 4%
Dennis Kucinich 0%
Chris Dodd 2%
Joe Biden 0%
Mike Gravel 0%

Now, please note that they're just asking who would be best on health care. Clearly, Hillary has an edge here both because of name recognition and because of her work on health care during the Clinton presidency.

What I found really disturbing about these numbers though, was that 50% of the respondents were 65 or older. How representative are numbers when you have a sample of only 5% below 40 years of age? And it really made me wonder how representative other poll numbers are that do not publish the age range of respondents.

Anyhow, I'm very much looking forward to this forum, as it will hopefully force the candidates to take a stand beyond "I'm for health coverage for all" and maybe they'll even tell us how they plan to achieve it.

You can view the live webcast of the health care forum over at Think Progress starting at 9am PT/noon ET.

1 comment:

Brian said...

I wanted to say that I was at the Forum yesterday. I think that Sen. Clinton was on fire, and did an awesome job of educating me about the possibilities in the health care debate. Her knowledge of the system, and experience already make her the candidate to choose for health care!!! I look forward to having universal health care in 2009!!