The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Working Group Wastes Our Time

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


The Citizens’ Health Care Working Group was created by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 to foster a “national discussion” on healthcare to be presented as a report and reviewed by the President and Congress in order to change healthcare policy in America.

There are many problems with interim report, starting with the way in which it was conducted.  The Working Group polled 23,000 people and focused on only 50 communities in 30 states and the District of Columbia.  It would have been more efficient, less costly, and perhaps more representative to poll a random sample of 1,500 to 2,000 people as Gallup has successfully done for decades.

Citizens voiced their opinions through town hall forums and Internet surveys but only those interested enough to take the initiative participated.  As a result, left-wing groups put out advertisements and alerts to get like-minded people to attend to sway the study in favor of universal healthcare, likely resulting in over-representation of that policy.   

After conducting this study, the Working Group came up with recommendations for their interim report, which was released on June 1, 2006.  One of the recommendations stated that “it should be public policy that all Americans have affordable health care.”  They also advocated a national system where everyone gets coverage “regardless of their health care status, need for health services, or ability to pay for coverage.”  People of all ages, income groups, and health conditions would have to participate in a universal plan.

The group claimed that many participants in the study demanded “cradle to grave” access to health care and that 75 percent favored or strongly favored universal healthcare. 

That characterization is grossly misleading.  In an extensive poll conducted by ABCNEWS and the Washington Post in 2004, 62 percent of Americans preferred universal health coverage.  However, that support is conditional:  It falls to fewer than four in 10 if it means a limited choice of doctors or waiting lists for non-emergency treatments.  While there is dissatisfaction with the system overrall, 82 percent of insured Americans rate their health care positively.

To pay for universal health care, the Working Group recommended using principles of “shared responsibility” and suggested several taxes that could be raised as well as a proposal to take away federal tax subsidies for employer-sponsored health insurance. 

Ninety days after its release, the Working Group will submit a final set of recommendations to Congress and the President.  The public may submit comments on the recommendations until August 31, 2006.  Taxpayers should feel free to express their concerns.  

Mary Krulia

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