3/4 of Americans Back Choice of a Public Option

NBC News (.pdf) and The Wall Street Journal decided to drop the question from their August polling, so SurveyUSA went ahead and polled Americans on their sentiments towards a public option using the very question NBC and The Journal had previously used in June. The numbers are quite remarkable:

In any healthcare proposal, how important do you feel it is to give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance--extremely important, quite important, not that important, or not at all important?

Extremely important: 58 percent (41 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Quite important: 19 percent (35 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Not that important: 7 percent (12 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Not at all important: 15 percent (8 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)

Total important: 77 percent (76 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)
Total unimportant: 22 percent (20 percent in June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll)

It's not clear why the pollsters behind the NBC/WSJ poll omitted this question this time around, but it certainly appears that public support for the option of a government-run plan has not at all diminished in the past two months despite the onslaught from the right and an unfavorable media climate.

Indeed, what's particularly interesting about the latest numbers from SurveyUSA is the breadth of the support for a public option as part of health insurance reform. Looking at the partisan breakdown of the question, even 71 percent of Republicans believe a public option to be important -- including a whopping 58 percent who believe it to be extremely important. Even two-thirds of conservatives in the country back a public option, per this polling.

So why, then, are some in Congress so skittish about giving the public a choice -- one that they seemingly want -- between private insurance and a program administered by the federal government?

Tags: 111th Congress, health insurance reform, Healthcare, Public Option (all tags)

Comments

26 Comments

The Wall Street Journal? You're kidding, right?

You want to know why the WSJ dedicded to skip that question, knowing how it polled before?

Do you think they would have skipped it if 60+% were AGAINST the public option?

Hell, it would be the headline of the poll in that case.

by WashStateBlue 2009-08-20 01:21PM | 0 recs
Impact

What's really great is that this number is coming during the height of the attacks on the idea of the public plan. This means hopefully that the public is unmoved by the industries attempt to defeat the plan. That's a really good thing and bodes well.

by bruh3 2009-08-20 01:30PM | 0 recs
Devil's Advocate

It's conceivable that the question is pulling in some anti's as well as pro's because it doesn't say "Do you favor X", it says "How important is X".  For example:

In any law enforcement proposal, how important do you feel it is that the government should have the right to eavesdrop on citizens without first obtaining a warrant -- Extremely important, quite important, not that important, or not at all important

People might think "Yes, that's mighty important to me, because I'm so against it."

by Rob in Vermont 2009-08-20 01:47PM | 0 recs
Another one from Kaiser today

http://www.pollster.com/blogs/us_health_ care_kaiser_8411.php


Do you favor or oppose creating a government-administered public health insurance option similar to Medicare to compete with private health insurance plans?
59%     Favor
38%     Oppose

A silent majority indeed.

by the mollusk 2009-08-20 01:58PM | 0 recs
Great question

No room for misinterpretation

by Rob in Vermont 2009-08-20 02:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Great question

Actually, plenty of room.

The Kaiser poll was conducted Aug 4-11, so is old and opinion has shifted since.

The Kaiser poll was conducted with Adults, not Registered Voters or Likely Voters which are the groups that the electeds care about when deciding whether to back the legislation.

I have to say in general, Libs feel they are so much smarter, yet fail on basic logic skills.  That said, they are very good at mindlessly repeating what their authority figures tell them to say.  I believe this points to a failure of American education.

Here's another example: the big corporations love Obamacare.  They are running ads and lobbying in support of it.  They can't wait for the government to spend trillions of taxpayer dollars on their products and services.

It is average Americans who oppose Obamacare, not the Washington special interests.

Libs get this backwards, despite it being plain as day.

by legalize 2009-08-21 04:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Great question

Hey, now I feel bad making blanket accusations on liberals on this blog.  Reading further down, there are lots of sceptical comments from Libs.  I tend to equate scepticism with intelligence.

On American education, we are evaluated on providing correct answers, never on asking probing questions.  Big problem for either a Republic or a Democracy.

-- Scott

by legalize 2009-08-21 05:27AM | 0 recs
Re: The Public Plan

So why, then, are some in Congress so skittish about giving the public a choice -- one that they seemingly want -- between private insurance and a program administered by the federal government?

Because polling is not the be-all and end-all of political calculus, nor should it be; and there's more to healthcare reform than a "public option" and always has been.

I'm sort of amazed both at the vehemence on the left of "a public plan or else!" type rhetoric and the subsequent outsized push to make it a centerpiece of political success. Insurance reforms - which, at least, has become the more accurate description of what we're doing - need to be about more than what is likely to amount to a small, government supported option for subsidized insurance. Sure, government supported and subsidized insurance is key to getting full insurance... but we have equally or more important goals to consider: expanding and properly supporting Medicaid (which, ideally would mean federalizing it away from state block grants), getting some meaningful reforms to private insurance (which will not go away, under any current proposal), and making some hard decisions about changes to Medicare. Making a "public plan" into the most important, or only, issue in play is distorting the overall discussion beyond recognition, and it's a reminder that what August has produced, most terribly, is an unproductive discussion that's pushed people to either-or shouting matches. That's deadly for a complex issue like healthcare, and it's not just about all those terrible things the right has done. I'm less concerned about a public plan than I am about what a mess the overall shape of reform has taken, and public plan or no, i'm not convinced we're seeing a path to a really meaningful outcome in the current debate. And I'm not sure mst progressives are being flexible enough to refcous on doing some key things that could really get passed and make change, in favor of a shrill shouting match.

by nycweboy1 2009-08-20 02:16PM | 0 recs
Re: The Public Plan

Well stated!

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-08-20 05:03PM | 0 recs
Re: 3/4 of Americans Back Choice

I know it is nice to feel like 77% of the public agrees with us and the only way we're being foiled is by those evil special interests.  But any time we see a number this large, we ought to get skeptical and think about what else might be going on.  Because seriously, you can't even get 77% of the country to agree that President Obama might have been born in this country.

So why would 71% of Republicans answer this poll by saying that a choice between a public option and private insurance is important?  Well, one reason is that they may be putting the emphasis on the other half of the question.  In other words, we think it's important that people have a public alternative to the current, privately-run insurance system.  But maybe Republicans think like this: "even if there's a government-run system, I still think it's very very important that people retain the option to buy private insurance!"

Polls are complex and this line of thinking is probably one of many things that's going on in people's heads.  But if someone says that 71% of Republicans support a public option, come on, doesn't that set off anyone's bullshit meter?

by Steve M 2009-08-20 02:17PM | 0 recs
Re: 3/4 of Americans Back Choice

77 percent may or may not be high. However, if you look at polling over a long time, as people like Kaiser, which someone above says puts the numer at 59 percent, does, then the reality is that support has been solid for a decade. Check this polling link I saved from 2005 on the issue:

"The public wants the government to play a leading role in providing health care for all. For example, in an October, 2003 Washington Post/ABC poll, by almost a two-to-one margin (62 percent to 33 percent), Americans said that they preferred a universal system that would provide coverage to everyone under a government program, as opposed to the current employer-based system. Similarly, in Kaiser polls from 1992 to 2000, a large majority of the public agreed that the federal government should guarantee medical care for people who don't have health insurance. In a slightly different question asked more recently by Kaiser in June 2003, more than seven in ten adults (72 percent) agreed that the government should guarantee health insurance for all citizens, even if it means repealing most of the tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush, while less than one-quarter (24 percent) disagreed with this statement. Finally, the last time Gallup asked whether the federal government should make sure all Americans have health coverage, they agreed that was a federal government responsibility by 62-35 (November, 2002)."

http://www.emergingdemocraticmajorityweb log.com/donkeyrising/archives/001291.php

Adding:

"In that context, the public supports a wide variety of options for expanding health insurance to cover more Americans. In a June, 2005 Kaiser poll, the public said they favored tax deductions or credits for businesses (88 percent); expanding state government programs like Medicaid (80 percent); expanding Medicare to cover people ages 55-64 (74 percent); tax credits for uninsured individuals (73 percent); and requiring business to offer employees health insurance (70 percent). In a December, 2003 Harvard School of Public Health/Robert Wood Johnson/ICR poll, 80 percent supported expanding Medicaid/SCHIP; 76 percent supported employers being required to offer a health plan; and 71 percent supported a tax credit plan. Trailing these options, but still garnering majority support, were a universal Medicare plan (55 percent) and an individual coverage mandate plan (54 percent). Finally, the 2004 GQR/POS poll found 74 percent favoring guaranteed health care coverage for all American children under 18 and 62 percent favoring catastrophic health insurance coverage for all Americans. (Note: one of the only options that didn't garner majority support in these polls was a single or national health plan financed by tax payers that would provide insurance for all Americans (37-47 percent))."

by bruh3 2009-08-20 02:53PM | 0 recs
Re: 3/4 of Americans Back Choice

I agree that polling on the public option and/or single-payer has been positive for quite some time.  I think a reality-based observer has to intuitively understand that support has surely gone down, not up, as a result of the political polarization of the issue.  77% is just not a believable number.

Of course, the more important point is not what people think today, but whether they will be happy down the road if the legislation passes.  I understand it is important to play up polls like this one in order to convince wavering Democrats that the smart play is to support the public option.  But I doubt many legislators would be swayed by hearing an implausible number like 77%.

by Steve M 2009-08-20 02:57PM | 0 recs
Re: 3/4 of Americans Back Choice

I agreed that it maybe too high. But,  what I was looking for with these numbers is not the polarization of the electorate, but whether the numbers reflect the same long held views regarding public sentiment. I believe it does. Thus, I am not so bothered by the desire to sell the numbers. Even if they are inflated they still represent the underlying popular support.

by bruh3 2009-08-20 03:11PM | 0 recs
Re: 3/4 of Americans Back Choice

One addtional link:

http://www.tcf.org/list.asp?type=NC& pubid=1093

by bruh3 2009-08-20 02:55PM | 0 recs
Other side of the fence

I just wanted to add a post a friend of mine made on another site. His name witheld, but these are his words in response to the question, what do US Insurance companies add to healthcare. This is just simply taking a moment for everyone to see both sides here and realize that insurance companies employee hundreds of thousands of good people who believe in reform but are also upset how they are being portrayed:

"I work for an insurance company and I am a progressive Democrat so I wanted to respond to the person who asked what value insurance companies offer. Insurance companies are a service provider. They provide services that may be transparent to many but when you peel back the onion, they are very valuable. 1) Take financial risk 2) Negotiate discounts with providers (doctors, hospitals, etc) and pharmacy manufactures; 3) Investigate fraud and abuse; 4) Insurance companies employ nurses that work with a member/patient that need for: Improved skills in self management; Improved transition/coordination among multiple providers and/or levels of care; Coordination of end-of-life care needs and life-limiting disease care needs; Assistance to maximize effective use of limited health plan benefit; Reduction of avoidable costs 5) Provide Medical management - making sure that members get the right care at the right time. In our current fee for service provider, providers are motivated to perform more services than may be appropriate to benefit their own bottom line. Experimental and investigational procedure exclusions would be included here. 6) Provide higher levels of customer service and provider support. Think about the last time you called your insurance company. I bet most people agree that that call was much more pleasant in the private space than it would be if you were calling a government office. 7) Innovate and develop new technologies/services that enhance our customers health care experience such as a self-service member portal, patient safety programs & personal health records/ electronic medical record) There is very limited 't happen with government run programs. I realize that it is very easy to vilify insurance companies but the problems with health care in America are much, much broader than insurance companies. Eliminate us and you will see costs continue to rise."

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-08-20 06:53PM | 0 recs
Re: This Survey Says Nix on Public Option

It is only poll to say that. If you want to pick an outlier to argue your point feel free to do so, but it is unconvincing to use one poll out of multiple polls as proof of a position.

by bruh3 2009-08-20 08:48PM | 0 recs
Re: This Survey Says Nix on Public Option

That poll has also been discredited... the question was loaded... The SurveyUSA poll used the exact same question and added the word "choice" to the poll...

by LordMike 2009-08-20 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: 3/4 of Americans Back Choice

New ABC News Poll: 52% support public option!

http://abcnews.go.com/images/PollingUnit /1093a3HealthCareReform.pdf

by LordMike 2009-08-20 08:54PM | 0 recs
Re: 3/4 of Americans Back Choice

Hardly...

We have no idea how "ABC phrased the question... As we saw from the discredited NBC poll, not emphasizing that the public option is a choice is a big deal...

by LordMike 2009-08-20 09:27PM | 0 recs
Re: This Survey Says Nix on Public Option

It is ironic that someone would choose the name "FreedomFan" in order to vehemently argue against giving people a choice between a private plan and a public one.

Given the tone of your posts, I'm guessing the irony was completely unintentional.

by Steve M 2009-08-20 09:29PM | 0 recs
Re: This Survey Says Nix on Public Option

Do you know what outlier means? it has nothing to do with who ran the poll. Nor does the issue of wording necessarily have to do with who ran the poll. That deals with whether people understood the word choice=option. Just like the abortion poll recently in which they asked people were they in favor of abortion as I remember rather than in fvor of keeping roe v wade. If I had answered that poll I would have said no, I am not in favor of abortion, but if I had answered a poll about roe, I would have said yes to that. The nature of the question matters. One of the reason you look at multiple polls rather than cherry picking as you are doing is that it provides you with a better picture of what's occuring. Overall, the number seem to realistic between 55 and 70 for the public option, but it is popular. The reason i can guestimate that is looking at multiple polls. Not just one.

by bruh3 2009-08-20 09:37PM | 0 recs
Re: 3/4 of Americans Back Choice

Okay , I get now that youare not reachable regarding your understanding of numbers. I wil leave you to your wingnuttery.

by bruh3 2009-08-20 09:39PM | 0 recs
Re: 3/4 of Americans Back Choice

Quinnipiac in Florida...  58% support public option....

http://cbs4.com/local/obama.health.poll. 2.1136681.html

I guess they are an outlier, too....

by LordMike 2009-08-20 09:42PM | 0 recs
Re: 3/4 of Americans Back Choice

I wonder if this will put some pressure on any congress people from that state?

by bruh3 2009-08-20 09:44PM | 0 recs
Re: This Survey Says Nix on Public Option

You have the freedom to understand that the public option is financed through premiums, not through taxation.

by Steve M 2009-08-21 05:05AM | 0 recs
Re: 3/4 of Americans Back Choice

Where in the hell are all of these libretardian fucknozzles cooming from?

Hey asswipes, NEWSFLASH!!!  This is  a progressive website.  You are not welcome here.  Go to RedState to engage in your little Randian circlejerks, you stupid fucksticks.

by Obamaphile 2009-08-21 05:08AM | 0 recs

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