October 29 2009

IWF in the News: The Female Perspective on Health Care

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 28, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Ladies, great news. You have power, and lots of it. The White House has paid and is paying special attention to women during its push for health care reform.

But what exactly do women say about these issues? A new nationwide poll by the Polling Company has some answers. Here is an example. When asked how they would rate their health care, 74 percent of women say excellent or good, 24 percent says fair or poor. But there is so much more.

Joining us is Kellyanne Conway, president and CEO of the Polling Company. Nice to see you, Kellyanne. And with the number of 74 percent of women saying that their health care is excellent or good, does that translate into that the women are not crazy about overhauling the system, or not?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, THE POLLING COMPANY: It does, Greta, and that is why is such a problem to sell different proposals. In other words, women in concept support health care reform, and in fact they tell us in the polls it should be in the top three issues for the president and Congress to address. Only 16 percent say it should be the top.

But when we ask them for health care reform, they essentially tell us health care reform is something for somebody else, not for them. We actually asked the question, "What kind of change in health-care reform would you like for yourself and what would you like for the country?" And we find that 75 percent of the women say they would either prefer to have their health care either left as it is or modified slightly. Only 19 percent wanted to have a dramatic overhaul.

Those numbers are slightly lower when they talk about health care overall. But I think that women like the concept of health care reform, but it's the specifics and the legislative proposals where they have been very skeptical and in many ways confused.

They are wary about the price tag, a compromise in quality, the exodus of doctors, perhaps. We are learning all of that through this poll of women.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think it was in 1996 the women's vote was so important in terms of the outcome of the election. So when you see women at odds with the trend of what may be going on in congress, if they are not grossly dissatisfied with something and just want something tinkered with a little bit, is that a bad sign for people in Congress who might be supporting a rather comprehensive overhaul of the system?

CONWAY: It is a bad sign because it is so early before the 2010 elections. And what you saw all through this year is the nervousness if not the anger among many men and women in this country manifested at these tea parties and these health care town hall meetings.

They showed up because they were worried about the specifics and the lack of specifics.

We actually asked a couple of the political currency questions in this survey for the Independent Women's Forum that you're talking about, which is would you be more likely or less likely to vote for a member of Congress if they tried to move people from a private-sector system into a government-run or even we used the word public option, public plan.

And 67 percent of the women said they would be less likely to vote for a member of Congress or a candidate for Congress, Greta, who actually wanted them to move from the private sector into a public plan.

That's why all this branding talk about Speaker Pelosi talking about we are not going to call it the public option anymore, we are going to call it the consumer option, I think that is a little too late, because women are equating public option with government run.

And public is also the opposite of private, and "private" is a very important word in the health care lexicon, privacy and consistency.

VAN SUSTEREN: I take it that your polling is done with people who answered the telephone, and to the extent that you don't reach people who do not have phones or do not answer their phones, that is the margin of error in any polling. Is that a fair description?

CONWAY: I am so glad you asked that question, Greta. I always look at this as an opportunity to talk about the challenges of modern polling. Our poll was conducted over seven nights. Most polls are conducted over one, two, or three nights.

The reason we let it breathe in the field longer is for precisely the reasons you are raising, many cell phone dependent individuals and cohorts in the population. It is getting more and more difficult to reach younger people and women of color.

And what we do is allow the poll the breath an extra two or three nights in the field to specially sample this population so that everybody is represented.

Greta, all of the methodology and all the cross tabs are available at our Web site. People can review the methodology and see who was included in the poll so they see it was national representative.

VAN SUSTEREN: Kellyanne, always nice to se you. Thank you, Kelly Ann.

CONWAY: My pleasure.

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