By Yusra Murad
Morning Consult, February 13, 2019
While top Democrats prepare to release health reform bills offering different iterations of single-payer systems and public insurance options and as Democratic presidential hopefuls begin building their health care platforms, “Medicare for all,” a long-cherished dream of progressive lawmakers and advocates, has come under increased fire from opponents who warn voters that they are at risk of losing their private insurance.
The laser focus on expanding the government’s role in health care has coincided with a double-digit slide in net support for “Medicare for all” among voters from January to February, according to new data from a Morning Consult/Politico poll.
Although “Medicare for all” enjoyed net support of 27 percentage points (calculated by subtracting the share of opponents from the share of supporters) among registered voters at the onset of 2019, that share dropped 15 points in the Feb. 7-10 survey, to 12 points.
The possibility of losing private insurance cuts support for “Medicare for all” in half. In the latest survey, when “Medicare for all” supporters were subsequently asked whether they would still back a government health system that eliminated the private insurance market, about 1 in 2 respondents (49 percent) reaffirmed their position, but just over one-fifth — or 22 percent — withdrew their support outright. Another 29 percent said they no longer knew or had no opinion.
Unlike the “Medicare for all” system, the popularity of the public health insurance option transcends party lines. About three-fourths of all voters (76 percent) support a system offering them the choice to purchase coverage either from the government or the private market.
Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), both supporters of Sanders’ “Medicare for all” bill, have stopped short of calling for the immediate elimination of private insurance. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who is weighing a bid for president, called pushing for a system that would pull the plug on employer-sponsored coverage “a bad opening offer.”
Instead, Bennet — alongside Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) — is proposing a public health insurance option, in which a federally run health plan would compete with, rather than replace, private insurers. Their “Medicare X” plan does not require a tax increase nor guarantee coverage for all Americans, but public plan enrollees would continue paying premiums.
Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Reps. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) and Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) plan to announce a bill today giving adults between the ages of 50 and 64 the option to buy into Medicare.
Morning Consult/Politico Poll of registered voters, February 7-10, 2019
Do you support or oppose a Medicare for All health care system, where all Americans would get their health insurance from the government?
29% – Strongly support
21% – Somewhat support
15% – Somewhat oppose
23% – Strongly oppose
11% – Don’t know/No opinion
Among those who support a Medicare for All option: As you may know, some proponents of Medicare for All have called for the elimination of private health insurance. If a Medicare for All health system included eliminating the private health insurance market, would you still support this type of health care system?
49% – Yes
22% – No
29% – Don’t know/No opinion
Do you support or oppose a public health insurance option, where Americans can choose to get their health insurance either from the government or from the private insurance market?
40% – Strongly support
36% – Somewhat support
7% – Somewhat oppose
6% – Strongly oppose
11% – Don’t know/No opinion
Poll (pages 136-147):
By Don McCanne, M.D.
Although this poll confirms that 50 percent of voters support a single payer Medicare for All program where all Americans would get their health insurance from the government, only one-fourth (49 percent of 50 percent) support it if it meant that the private insurance market were eliminated.
In contrast, three-fourths support a public option (a Medicare buy-in) where Americans can choose to get their health insurance either from the government or from the private insurance market.
Although some might interpret this to mean that single payer would not be popular, the experience with Medicare suggests that is probably not true, though the private Medicare Advantage plans are eroding support for the traditional Medicare program. It is more likely that the typical voter does not understand the policy implications of the Single Payer Medicare for All model. In order to obtain equity, efficiency, effectiveness and affordability of Medicare for All, the private plans must be eliminated. Yet you cannot explain that in an elevator speech; the policy science behind it is quite complex.
The politicians are now lining up in support of the fake Medicare for All proposals that do protect and preserve the private insurance industry. The steam roller is already on its way.
It been stated here frequently that we have a lot of work to do. This poll confirms that more than ever. It could be only weeks before the support for Single Payer Medicare for All crumbles. The media is becoming saturated with doomsday predictions for a government-run version of Medicare for All. We have to ask, can our slingshot take down their Goliath?
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