Despite Pressing State Deficit, Latest Field Poll Shows Voters Strongly Opposed to Health Care Cuts

According to the most recent Field Poll, registered California voters say they prefer that the state’s budget deficit be dealt with mostly through across-the-board spending cuts (63%) rather than tax increases (26%), by a greater than a two-to-one margin. Yet at the same time, when queried about 13 specific state spending categories, more voters oppose than support cutbacks in each area. Voters strongly oppose cuts to health care services, one of the largest segments of the state’s budget.

The California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) provided additional funding and support for the survey and also enabled the study to examine voter priorities in relation to the budgets of some specific health care programs. Field’s May survey was completed from a random sampling of 1,052 state voters during May 17-26, 2008. Findings from these health care and budget questions, released today, include:

  • Large majorities of registered voters oppose funding cuts to health care programs for low-income Californians and the disabled (77%) and mental health programs (73%). Of the other 11 areas of state spending presented to voters, opposition against cuts to these health programs is exceeded only by opposition to cuts for public schools (80%).
  • Voters voice their greatest concern about potential reductions to hospital and emergency rooms and trauma centers (86% are very or somewhat concerned). Majorities of registered voters also express concern about possible budget cuts to each of the other types of health programs and services measured: health care programs for low-income Californians and the disabled, like Medi-Cal (80%); staffing for nursing homes (76%); immunizations and prenatal care (72%); and public health and bio-terrorism preparedness (60%).
  • If state and local governments need additional money to forestall spending cuts to health care programs and services, more than two-thirds of voters support increasing the state tobacco tax (75%), the state alcohol tax (75%), or taxes on high-income earners (69%). Of the other eight options for raising revenue presented to voters, only two were supported by more than half of voters polled: increasing business property taxes (56%) or business income taxes (54%).

The Field Poll notes the findings are remarkably similar to those observed by the survey six years ago, the last time the state faced a major deficit.

View the full Field Poll results through the External Link below.

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About the California Health Care Foundation

The California Health Care Foundation is dedicated to advancing meaningful, measurable improvements in the way the health care delivery system provides care to the people of California, particularly those with low incomes and those whose needs are not well served by the status quo. We work to ensure that people have access to the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford.