By Hannah Fingerhut and Andrew Taylor
Associated Press, March 21, 2019
A growing majority of Americans want greater government spending on health care, and the increase is being driven by both Democrats and Republicans.
That’s according to new data from the General Social Survey, a widely respected trend survey that has been measuring views of government spending since the 1970s. An analysis by The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and General Social Survey staff reveals that Americans want to spend more money on a wide range of government functions.
The findings come as President Donald Trump’s latest budget plan proposes to cut many programs that are popular with the public, including alternative energy, the safety net for the poor, and health care.
Support for more government spending on health care has been on the rise since 2014. Seven in 10 consider the government’s spending on improving national health to be too low, up from 62 percent in 2016 and 56 percent in 2014. While Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say spending on health is too little, there has been a sharp increase across party lines. The poll finds 80 percent of Democrats say there is too little spending, up from 66 percent in 2014, and 59 percent of Republicans say the same, up from 42 percent four years ago.
Since 1973, more than half of Americans have said that the United States is spending too little on health and improving and protecting the nation’s health. The percentage peaked in 2004, when 77 percent of Americans said we’re spending too little, and then steadily declined to 56 percent in 2014. Since 2014, the percentage of Americans who say we’re spending too little has been on the rise, climbing to 62 percent in 2016 and 70 percent in 2018.
By Don McCanne, M.D.
Seventy percent of Americans believe that the government should be spending more on health care. That includes 80 percent of Democrats and a majority of Republicans as well – 59 percent – and the numbers have been increasing recently.
That does not seem to be consistent with the stated views of the politicians who are telling us that people would prefer to keep their private employer-sponsored health plans, so we should not enact a single payer Medicare for All program. In contrast, other polls have also confirmed the popularity of single payer.
By asking questions about your taxes and about freedom to choose your health plans, pollsters can make it appear that the support for single payer is malleable. But this AP-NORC poll is quite straightforward; there is a bipartisan consensus that the people want a publicly-funded health system. You won’t get that through a health plan offered at your place of employment.
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