Two months ago, the healthcare debate focused on birth control and, most notably, the Catholic Church. As part of the nation’s new health care law, employers are be required to offer free preventive care services in their insurance policies, including contraceptives. An exemption was made for churches and other religious organizations who object. Many Catholic leaders objected strongly, saying it violates the religious liberties of Catholic-affiliated hospitals, schools, and charities.
The Rush Limbaugh happened. He commandeered the headlines for days when he called a Georgetown law school student a slut and a prostitute because she spoke in favor of mandatory insurance coverage for contraception. As the debate raged over whether he would apologize and how many advertisers his program would lose, the policy issue of contraception coverage was mostly forgotten.
Not by us. We asked North Carolinians about it.
Forty-nine percent of North Carolinians say that employers should be allowed to opt out of covering contraceptives for their female employers. Forty-three percent say employers should be required to cover the full cost of contraceptives. The margin of error is 4.2%. (We didn’t poll on whether it was acceptable to call anyone those names, although some people have defended Limbaugh’s right to say them.)
This controversy ties up a lot of complicated issues: health care, big government, presidential politics, birth control and religion. (Ten percent of North Carolinians are Catholic, and the 50% of the residents consider themselves “very religious.”) Couple that with a streak of libertarianism, and it’s not surprising that most of the state’s residents don’t think employers should bear the cost.
Incidentally, as for Rush Limbaugh, the tempest has blown over and advertisers are coming back.
– John Robinson
Health care — A CBS News/New York Times poll shows 47 percent of Americans disapprove of the president’s Affordable Care Act, including 30 percent who strongly disapprove. In the poll, conducted March 21-25, only 36 percent of those questioned said they support the law either somewhat or strongly.
While we’re at it, a McClatchy-Marist Poll reported that 35% of Americans think the U.S. Supreme Court should let the Affordable Care Act stand, 34% think it should be repealed, 21% think it should declare the part that requires Americans to buy health insurance unconstitutional, and 10% are unsure.
Update: A Suffolk University poll released Monday found that 34% think the Affordable Care Act should be repealed, 32% said it should be modified, and 23% said it should stand as is.
Environment — The majority of Americans, 56%, say President Barack Obama is doing a good job of protecting the nation’s environment, while less than half say the same about his handling of national energy policy (42%) or his success in making America prosperous (43%).
– John Robinson
According to the Elon University Poll, North Carolinians are most concerned about these issues in order: the cost of gas, the national debt and the cost of health care.
Each provides fertile political talking points for Republican candidates, and they know it.
Cost of gas: The Republican National Committee sent out talking points instructing party faithful to take up the issue. House Speaker John Boehner urged his caucus to do the same. And, on Wednesday, the House energy committee obliged: The Republican majority called in a bunch of oilmen for a hearing dedicated largely to blaming President Obama for gas prices.
The national debt: Ron Paul ranks as the one candidate among four whose announced policies would leave America with a lower national debt than it would have under a status quo course, according to a new analysis.
Cost of health care: Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s main message to Republican voters in Huntsville Thursday was simple. “Obamacare is, in fact, the death knell for freedom, and that’s why it must be repealed,” Santorum told a large crowd at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center five days before the state’s GOP primary.
The poll results could give the candidates a guide to reassure North Carolinians about the plans for the future.
– John Robinson