The Boston Globe
Support for state health law rises
By Kay Lazar
Globe Staff / June 5, 2011
The poll by the Harvard School of Public Health and The Boston Globe found that 63 percent of Massachusetts residents support the 2006 health law, up 10 percentage points in the past two years. Just 21 percent said they were against the law.
Yet opposition has grown to one of its central elements — the requirement that people who can afford insurance buy it or face a fine. A similar provision in the national health care overhaul passed last year has been the subject of a contentious legal fight.
Forty-four percent said they oppose the mandate in the Massachusetts law, compared with 35 percent who opposed it in a 2008 poll. Still, the mandate retains the support of a narrow 51 percent majority of residents.
Percolating throughout the findings is a growing anxiety about health care costs, which are higher in Massachusetts than in the nation as a whole.
Residents are split on whether Massachusetts can afford to continue with the law as it stands, and 30 percent said the law is hurting the cost of their care, up from 22 percent in 2009. Yet when asked about the law’s role in boosting health costs in Massachusetts, 72 percent said rising costs were mainly because of factors other than the law.
The majority’s perception — which aligns with health policy specialists’ view that overall medical inflation is driving up costs in Massachusetts — may help explain the continued strong support for the law.
Support for the law may have increased along with the economy — it’s now about the same as it was before the recession — and because “it’s established. It’s running. It hasn’t caused problems for people.’’
The poll results show that residents with incomes below $30,000 — the bracket that would probably make them eligible for state-subsidized care — were the most likely to say the law is helping to control the cost of their care.