October 20, 2009

‘Public option’ now drawing clear support from majority of Americans

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rita_hibbardwebHere’s an interesting development – a new poll shows that that support for the public option in health care reform has surged from its summertime lows and now is favored by a clear majority of 57 percent of the public. If the program is run by the states and available only to those who lack affordable private options, it draws 76 percent, the Washington Post- ABC News poll shows.

The poll finds that two key groups have shifted in support of the public option — seniors and independent voters. And in additon to backing the public option, they are supporting another key provision of health care reform – a measure that requires all Americans to carry health care insurance.

The public option would put in place a government-run health plan to compete with private insurers.

“Overall, 45 percent of Americans favor the broad outlines of the proposals now moving in Congress, while 48 percent are opposed, about the same division that existed in August, at the height of angry town hall meetings over health-care reform. Seven in 10 Democrats back the plan, while almost nine in 10 Republicans oppose it. Independents divide 52 percent against, 42 percent in favor of the legislation.

There are also deep splits in the new poll over whether the proposed changes would go too far or not far enough in expanding coverage and controlling costs. Twice as many see the plan as leaning toward too much government involvement, but since last month there has been a nine-point increase in the number who say government should be more involved.

The Associated Press reports on a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation monthly poll which found that a third of Americans said they are worried about losing current coverage in September, up from 29 percent in August. “The worries about losing health insurance were greatest among young adults (40 percent), followed by middle-aged people (38 percent). But 29 percent of seniors also said they were worried, even though they have taxpayer-subsidized coverage through Medicare.”

— Rita Hibbard

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