Gallup has asked this question each November since 2001 as part of the Gallup Poll Social Series, and most recently in its Nov. 5-8 Health and Healthcare survey. There have been some fluctuations from year to year, but this year marks the first time in the history of this trend that less than half of Americans say ensuring healthcare coverage for all is the federal government’s responsibility.

The high point for the “government responsibility” viewpoint occurred in 2006, when 69% of Americans agreed. In 2008, this percentage fell to 54%, its previous low reading. This year, in the midst of robust debate on a potentially imminent healthcare reform law, the percentage of Americans agreeing that it is the government’s responsibility to make sure everyone has health insurance has fallen even further, by seven points, to 47%. Half of Americans now say this is not the government’s responsibility.

The reason behind this shift is unknown.