Public Favors Public Option? Who Knew?!

22 Oct

The most recent polling data available show that the public continues to support health reform that includes a public insurance option and an individual insurance mandate. Of course, the numbers break out differently depending on how the questions are asked. In general, nothing’s changed since August–the height of the angry town hall meetings–when the nation was relatively split down the middle on the reform issue, with sizable partisan gaps.

Considering the current health reform legislation in Congress:

  • 45% Favor
  • 48% Oppose

But by political party affiliation, the numbers are different:

  • Democrats: 70% Favor 30% Oppose
  • Republicans: 10% Favor 90% Oppose
  • Independents: 42% Favor 52% Oppose

On the public option, however, support is strong:

  • 57% Favor
  • 40% Oppose

And if the public option were run by the states rather than the federal government:

  • 76% Favor
  • 20% Oppose
  • Even 56% of Republicans Favor this option

And the individual mandate is also popular, especially if there are low-income subsidies:

  • 56% Favor
  • 40% Oppose
  • 71% Favor with low-income subsidies

How is it that there is stronger support for some of the individual–and often more contentious–components of health reform than there is for reform overall? I think it boils down to public confusion. For starters there’s not one bill in Congress, but several. That makes it harder to evaluate as a whole. Then there’s the issue that the bills are themselves complex. People are more comfortable making up their mind about a specific provision, and they probably feel that they understand these particular aspects well, because they’ve been so frequently discussed in the media. The support dwindles when people are asked to consider the legislation as a whole, because they don’t understand its more complex parts. There’s a lesson in this, because overly complex legislation is one of the fatal flaws that killed the Clinton health reform effort. We’re a twittering, text messaging society. Perhaps Obama should tell people: Vote 4 Rfrm 2 B Hlthy & Save $.

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Posted by on October 22, 2009 in Uncategorized


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