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

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Public Option On The March

Turns out that the polls still show the same robust support for a public option, as long as the question is asked consistently.

More than three out of every four Americans feel it is important to have a "choice" between a government-run health care insurance option and private coverage, according to a public opinion poll released on Thursday.

A new study by SurveyUSA puts support for a public option at a robust 77 percent, one percentage point higher than where it stood in June [...]

Earlier in the week, after pollsters for NBC dropped the word "choice" from their question on a public option, they found that only 43 percent of the public were in favor of "creating a public health care plan administered by the federal government that would compete directly with private health insurance companies."

Opponents of the president's agenda jumped on the findings as evidence that backing for the public option was dropping. Proponents responded by arguing that NBC's tinkering with the language of the question (which it had also done in its July survey) had contributed to the drop in favorability for a public plan.

SurveyUSA's poll, which was commissioned by the progressive group, a proponent of the public plan, gives credence to those critiques. While arguments about what type of language best describe the public option persist --"choice" is considered a trigger word that everyone naturally supports -- it seems clear that the framing of the provision goes a long way toward determining its popularity.

"Choice" may be a trigger word, but it also accurately describes the policy - under the plan individuals seeking insurance would have a choice of a range of options in the insurance exchange, including a public plan. And people like that. A lot.

Jacob Hacker, the progenitor of the structure of the public plan, is out today with a study showing that the types of plans in the initial House bill, the ones that progressives are fighting for, are the only ones likely to work (I'd personally like to see the firewall removed and allow individuals the same choice as well, but baby steps).

Progressives have raised $264,000 and counting for the 64 lawmakers who have said they will vote for nothing unless it contains a public plan. Nancy Pelosi is saying no plan will pass the House without that element included.

"There is no way I can pass a bill in the House of Representatives without a public option," she said to a crowd in California, noting that regional health care co-ops won't get the job done. "If they want to have [co-ops] for their state, perhaps that could be included in the legislation. But it is not a substitute for a public option."

And we're up to 45 Senators willing to support it as well, with the final five directly in the sights of activists. If 50 go definitively for a public option in the Senate, given the option of reconciliation for the more contentious bits there's absolutely no reason to leave it on the table.

Heck, when you have Terry McAuliffe vowing to hold a fundraiser in Virginia for the first lawmaker to pledge to support a public option (yes you read that right, Terry McAuliffe), something has shifted.

Terry McAuliffe thinks it is time to "insist" on the public option. We couldn't agree more. Terry's agreed to host a fundraiser with Virginia and national bloggers who are insisting on a public option for the first Virginia Congressman who will take our pledge! This will be an awesome event to highlight and honor any Virginia Congressman who shows leadership on this issue [...]

Will the fundraiser be for Bobby Scott? Jim Moran? Gerry Connolly? Tom Perriello? Any of them can get a night with national and local bloggers honoring them featuring T-Mac... but first they have to do the right thing.

All the energy and excitement on the Democratic side is around this element of reform. If it's bargained away, all the energy goes away. And so does any chance at a health care bill.

Figure it out, Rahm.

Labels: , , , , , ,