As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Someone Fax This To Congress

Yet another poll shows overwhelming support for a government-run option to compete with health insurance companies.

Americans overwhelmingly support substantial changes to the health care system and are strongly behind one of the most contentious proposals Congress is considering, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The poll found that most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector [...]

The national telephone survey, which was conducted from June 12 to 16, found that 72 percent of those questioned supported a government-administered insurance plan — something like Medicare for those under 65 — that would compete for customers with private insurers. Twenty percent said they were opposed.

Republicans in Congress have fiercely criticized the proposal as an unneeded expansion of government that might evolve into a system of nationalized health coverage and lead to the rationing of care.

But in the poll, the proposal received broad bipartisan backing, with half of those who call themselves Republicans saying they would support a public plan, along with nearly three-fourths of independents and almost nine in 10 Democrats.

The whole poll is here.

There remains the dichotomy of a high number of folks (77%) describing themselves as satisfied with their own health care. But given the overlap, considering that "85 percent of respondents said the health care system needed to be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt," clearly people will support a policy they believe to work for them and not for CEOs. Most important, we are starting to see the end of the Randian virtue of selfishness:

In a follow-up interview, Matt Flurkey, 56, a public plan supporter from Plymouth, Minn., said he could accept that the quality of his care might diminish if coverage was universal. “Even though it might not be quite as good as what we get now,” he said, “I think the government should run health care. Far too many people are being denied now, and costs would be lower.”

Obama needs to reassure people that their care would not suffer and is in fact already insufferable. But even if he cannot, over 70% of Americans, and you can barely find 70% to agree on the color of the sky, support government involvement in the health care system.

Health care is maddeningly complex, and defenders of the status quo exploit that complexity to spin out all kinds of theories about what this plan or that plan would actually do. It seems that the goal should be to stress how the status quo is irretrievably broken for far too many people, businesses and the government, and that as a matter of basic morality, we should offer everyone the access and opportunity to quality health care without exception. Clearly the public will be receptive.

Another point. In most people's minds, a 70-20 issue on which even Republicans offer plurality support would be among the easiest for swing-state Democratic Senators to get behind. But for some reason, that only works if the issue falls within the elite consensus. Anything remotely progressive, and the polls suddenly no longer matter.

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