Tennesseans surprised pollsters this week. For the first time since Vanderbilt launched its regular polling, health care tied with the economy as the top priority of Tennessee voters.
Melvin Covington of Nashville is jobless, so the economy is a big concern. But he says health care is just as much a pocketbook issue, if not more.
“Look how much it costs to have an operation now,” he says while fishing in Centennial Park. “I mean, if your child gets hurt and you have to go to one of these little clinics, you’re talking about $800 or $900, right off the bat.”
Vanderbilt’s bi-annual poll also found that Tennesseans are changing their minds about health care. There was a statistically significant uptick in people who think the government should just take over health insurance coverage.
Barbara Kennedy is a business owner in Lewisburg who disagrees with the 22 percent of Tennesseans who’ve warmed to the idea of universal healthcare. But she has an idea about what’s going on.
“As a nation, we’ve gotten so used to the government taking care of everybody and everything,” she says.
Or it may just be that people are becoming more educated, says Haley Vest. She works in IT at a Nashville hospital company.
“I think people are looking around the world and what some other countries like Canada have done with health care and are seeing that as United States citizens, we’re paying more for health care but we’re not necessarily getting better care,” Vest says.
The number of Tennesseans who want to see the Affordable Care Act repealed has also declined from last year.
Josh Clinton, co-director of the Vanderbilt Poll, says it’s a marked difference.
“It seems like Tennesseans are kind of updating their beliefs about what health care ought to be,” he says.