Friday, January 21, 2011

Variability in Health Care Survey Reports but not in Vermont's Health Care Plan

In many of my recent posts I have looked at how health care polling has been varied and manipulated.  It's always important to read between the headlines and the media outlets that publish the results sometimes as in the case of CNN with a nice report focused on health care only with questions related to health care and crosstabs with relevant demographics so i can easily see how different groups respond differently to different questions as in my post The US and Republicans Want Health Care Law Repealed....?  

This time CNN only asked about repeal, not about specific provisions or ones that were excluded such as Single Payer or Public Option.  Since the House passed it's show repeal of Obamacare there has been a flood of polls on the bill which are summarized at Real Clear Politics Health Care Polling SiteFor example Fox News (seemingly independent of Rasmussen) has come out with a 2 page pdf stating that the sample was restricted to 900 registered voters and that previous poll samples were restricted to likely voters (both of which are skewed against the uninsured).  A CBS/New York Times Poll so far is the only one showing a significant favorable rating for the bill with some crosstabulations but no questions about how the bill can be improved.  Others such as the NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll show their poll in the context of the other questions they ask such as about Sarah Palin's "blood libel" comment.  This is helpful seeing how the sequence of questions might have influenced responses but access to crosstabulations would be better.


For a statistician like me to do an independent analysis, the best situation would be to have access to these companies' raw polling data.  This would be difficult if not impossible to obtain.  In my post dissecting the Pat Toomey-Joe Sestak Senate race I was able to analyze crosstabulations that were already generated by CNN by working backwards using the sample size and percentages but it was very time consuming.

There is no time to review every poll on the Real Clear Politics list.  On none of the recent polls could I find questions about how to improve the bill which is a significant source of popular discontent about the bill .  My post POLL: Dislike of healthcare law crosses party lines, 1 in 4 Dems want repeal - (But Doesn't Ask Why) has a review of this polling issue.  


The state of Vermont is taking a different approach to health insurance by instituting a Single Payer health insurance system.  Gov. Peter Shumlin gives an interview discussing how it controls costs and provides care among other issues.


For more information in the Pittsburgh area there was a Healthcare not Warfare event run by the Progressive Democrats of America on January 30 (no Steeler game that day).  The information is below.

PDA's Pennsylvania Road Tour: Pittsburgh, January 30 for a strategy meeting featuring the following speakers:

• Congressman Mike Doyle representing district 14 in Allegheny County - Gave a good speech on the health care challenges in the next Congress with the Republicans in control.  He could not stay for the panel discussion.
• Chuck Pennacchio, Ph.D - executive director of Health Care for All Pennsylvania was replaced by Scott Tyson MD who discussed the challenges and advantages of passing a Single Payer Health Care Bill here in Pennsylvania
• Molly Rush - co-founder of Thomas Merton Center, Introduced the panel speakers. 
• Neal Bisno - president of SEIU Healthcare PA, Discussed challenges to the labor movement as a result of the Health Care Bill.    
Donna Smith, co-chair of Healthcare NOT Warfare campaign, California Nurses Union (CNU) - who was featured in the film Sicko by Michael Moore spoke of the need for citizens to get involved and hold elected officials feet to the fire.
    • Jo Schlesinger, coordinator, Coalition for Peace Action-Spoke of the benefits to society that would ensue from the US ending it's wars in Iraq & Afghanistan.

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    The Joy of Stats -

    In my most read post:

    Income and Life Expectancy. What does it Tell Us About US?

    there is a clip from the BBC documentary The Joy of Stats.  I cannot embed the full documentary here but you can see it at the link below.

    It includes a history of how public statistics were collected and how that changed over time as told by Swedish Dr. Hans Rosling.