Health Care Opposition: Talk About Costs

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Spin might be too harsh a word for it, but the GOP-aligned polling group Resurgent Republic has released a polling memo on health care strategy--i.e., what most concerns Americans, backed up with polling data, and what opponents to Obama's plan should talk about (whatever Obama's plan, specifically, ends up being).

One interesting nugget: the arguments against President Clinton's health care reform plan won't work again today, and this time around it's mostly about cost. The firm writes:

Indeed, "government bureaucrats" are scarcely less appealing than "insurance bureaucrats," and arguments over wait time and denial of treatment are much less resonant than cost arguments. Opponents of "ObamaCare" would be wrong to think that the central arguments that defeated "ClintonCare" would prevail again today. (underlining theirs)

So people care more about costs than about wait times and care being taken away, according to the firm non-profit group headed by former RNC Chairman and McCain pollster Ed Gillespie and GOP pollster and strategist Whit Ayres.

Health care is an economic concern, and opponents should craft their talking points accordingly, Resurgent Republic says: health care costs are, in fact, Americans' top financial concern, above paying for retirement, a mortgage, and the threat of losing a job, according to its findings, and opponents of Obama's effort should focus mainly on federal spending and debt.

On the pro-reform side, a Greenberg Quinlian memo mirrored some of these findings last week, advising that you-won't-lose-your-coverage arguments play well with the public, but warning that "[W]e cannot expand the majority supporting health care reform without showing how we reduce costs for individuals and how we expand choice."

Recent independent polls have shown support for an overhaul (and an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll last week showed 76 percent support for including a public/private option in reform proposals), but these are the arguments we may hear from supporters of and opponents to "ObamaCare" as the debate heats up.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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