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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

ABC-WP Poll Shows Health Coverage Reform Still Winning Public Support

...or, a lesson for Dan in how to write accurate headlines.

Dan Richardt at Aberdeen's Red Purple and Blue offers a study in deceptive blogging. In typical distortion mode to protect his crumbling worldview, Richardt writes "Polls show that Congress’ plan that Obama approves of is still losing support with American People." His link goes (where else?) to Fox News, which cites a single Rasmussen Reports survey. Poll. Singular.

In his comment section, I ask what anyone other than Fox might be saying abotu the issue and provide links to four polls (yes, plural) indicating continuing majority support for a public option. Of course, the sharp-eyed logicians in the RP&B comment section note that the Fox/Rasmussen poll asked about the plan currently before Congress, not the public option specifically, so Richardt must be right. Never mind that the House plan still has a public option. Never mind that no one will provide clarification on which bill Rasmussen asked about (despite Adam Feser's noble efforts—thanks, Adam!).

Richardt also spins his headline: "Obama's Health Care Still Losing with the People." Never mind that not one of the bills in Congress has been written by the White House. Richardt plays to the Obama hatred, choosing ad hominem over policy specifics. Never mind that "still losing" attempts to revise history to suit Richardt's fantasy that the duly elected president has been losing all along.

Never mind, also, these specifics from the latest ABC–Washington Post survey (just one, Dan) that seem to indicate the effort toward health coverage reform is still winning:
  • Support for the public option as rebounded since August to 57%.
  • 56% back the insurance mandate (alas); add subsidies for low-income folks to cover premiums, and support swells to 71% (including a majority of Republicans).
  • 51% will back a public option even if such a plan got no GOP support in Congress (have fun with that filibuster, Senator Thune). Independents are on the Dems' side on this one.
  • If President Obama's numbers are down, that may be largely due to Democrats expressing their disapproval of his unwillingness to push for stronger reform (I know that feeling!): the President's "strongly approve" rating among Dems on health care has dropped 15 percentage points since mid-September.
Dan Richardt is just wrong. Health coverage reform still enjoys majority support. I'll even argue that if the Senate will drop Senator Baucus's Private Insurance Profit Protection Act and restore the public option to its legislation, public support for the measure will go up.


  1. You are probably right when most people think some type of health reform is needed. But this bill is a monstrosity, 1500+ pages in the Senate bill alone. I read part of one of the original House bills, and they are legalese and impossible to understand or know exactly what the law would actually entail.

    It is said to be deficit neutral. How? It is frontloaded with income and doesn't kick in with expenses for several years. So it looks good if you just glance at it. How about 10 years out? What will it cost then? How will we pay for it when we are already broke? No program devised and run by the gov't will hold to its original cost estimates. So what then? Higher taxes and rationing of care. This will not improve health care outcomes. It will not even insure most of those not presently insured. It will penalize employers. It even has a clause in the bill that says the gov't can kick an individual out of his personal plan or kick employers off certain plans.

    If you really want to improve health care, then make the plans portable across state lines. Address tort reform. Even Congress admitted they wouldn't address tort reform because they didn't want to take on the legal profession!

    A public option sounds great until it drives private insurance plans out of existence. And you prove to me why this would not happen.


    Here's a link that is worth listening to about this wonderful bill.

  2. Electric co-ops didn't drive private utilities out of business: they provided service where the private sector wouldn't. Same with public option for health coverage: it improves competition.

    But again, Linda, what are you worried about? If government is so awful, how could it possibly compete with the vaunted private health insurers?

    Funny that you say the bill is impossible to understand, yet base your arguments on supposed specifics of the bill (by the way—point to the specific clause on that point about kicking individuals off certain plans: identify which bill and which section, with hyperlink, available at OpenCongress.org).

    And stating that the bill is big and complicated is not an argument against it. America is big and complicated. George McGovern has offered the simplest plan: Medicare for all! Medicare is complicated, but I haven't heard you call for abolishing that program, have I?

    And if "big and complicated" were grounds for dismissal, we would cancel every private insurance plan (how many of you have read and understood your private policy in its entirety?).

  3. Listen to the link I provided. It tells about the gov't being able to disenroll an individual or companies.

    If a public option is provided on a level playing field with private insurance that would be one thing. If the gov't provides it, drives private plans out of existence by making it so that companies are ahead to quit offering their private plans to employees and instead kick them onto the gov't option by offering it at lower prices, this is manipulation.

    And it is not deficit neutral. Already Obama is planning to reimburse docs for the lesser amount paid by Medicare, and this is not deficit neutral. The only way it can be deficit neutral is by raising taxes, and by frontloading income and backloading expenses. People are getting smarter and see thru these obfuscations.

    And would you sign a bill of this magnitude without knowing what else was stuck in page 989 under a subparagraph? That is what the sponsors expect Congress to do, and this is irresponsible.

  4. [I assume the preceding is Linda McIntyre's follow-up.]

    "punish" the Americans who've "earned" their coverage -- what rot. Taxes aren't punishment; they are the price of civil society. Rep. Rogers' language also assumes we "earn" health care... which implies you don't deserve treatment just by dint of being human. Rep. Rogers doesn't do any more than you. He doesn't cite the specific clause; he's raising unsupported fears. Nothing in HR 3200 says government will pick your doctor or your treatment. Those are things that private insurers do now. Total smoke and mirrors, total disconnect of free-market rhetoric from reality.

    Rep. Rogers preaches the same old "let the private market solve" baloney when the private market has produced exactly the failures around us. The "free market" leads to an American medical system in which 1/3 of procedures are unnecessary, driving up demand and costs. We could save money and get better health outcomes by cutting procedures 33%... but you won't have that, because that's rationing, and we have a right to all the health care we want to buy, right?

    Right to health care... hmm....

  5. nonnie:

    Generally, I tend to agree that I don't really want government running things. However, how many years have we had private insurance? 50-100? If private insurance and the markets were going to be effective, isn't that a long enough time scale? How much longer should we wait for decreased costs?

    It seems to me that we have waited long enough. I tend to agree with CAH that ideally, everyone should just be allowed to enroll in medicare if they choose for a fee. The overhead rate is far lower than private insurance and the risk pool is far larger.

    Also, I don't really see the harm in allowing the private insurance companies to go bust. If they do, it would be because the public option would be offering a better product, right? Isn't that what you're hoping private insurance is going to do anyway? Drive out the inefficiency?

    It seems to me that your theory of the superiority of private insurance is lacking. In particular, if you look at healthcare programs from other counties; public plans consistently have a higher customer satisfaction rate along with a lower cost than the US system.

  6. Sorry, I do not agree. People in other countries with gov't run health care have rationing, long lines, worse outcomes, etc. And if they want to go outside the system, they are many time prohibited from doing so even if they pay for it themselves.

    I'm not saying insurance/health care does not need change. I am saying this heavy-handed, completely partisan, hastily pushed plan(s) is the wrong approach.

    The whole impetus was at first to ensure the uninsured. Well, this plan does not do that. And the intent was changed to insurance reform making the insurance cmopanies the bad guys. Never mind that 85% or so of the people are satisfied with their plans and want to keep them. No matter how you spin it, a gov't sponsored and subsidized plan will eventually drive out private plans who will not be able to compete.

    Why not include tort reform, which would then lessen the amount of tests etc that physicians now perform just to protect themselves from litigation? Why not address portability? These would go a long ways toward reducing costs.

    The promoters of this state that much of it will be paid for by getting fraud out of Medicare. Who not address that first and see how much is saved in gov't payments to Medicare. If you believe this will happen once the bill is passed, you are dreaming. Do you really think that the Dems will further antagonize older voters by cutting Medicare after the fact? They want the votes.

    I do not believe anything this administration has to say. It has lost the trust of many. His campaign promises have been broken regarding transparency, no new taxes, bipartisanship.

  7. Tony, you assume a public option would be a better product if it drives out competition in the private market. Wrong. It would simply be a cheaper product and maybe the only one available to people when employers choose the cheaper option and the private insurers can not compete. We all know that cheaper is not necessarily better.

  8. Sorry, the above anonymous is me again (Linda M, Nonnie). My fingers got a mind of their own and hit the wrong key.

  9. Nonnie,

    Please refer to:


    8 examples of public plan/hybrid plan/socialized systems that outperform the US system. There is no debate here on whether or not they are superior systems.

    To directly address your points:

    1. Tort Reform-I have moral sympathy for this point, but it has been estimated that it would reduce the cost of health care by less than 1% so to me it's inconsequential. I'm only looking for big cost reductions right now.

    2. Portability-Agreed, and the public option would completely address that problem.

    3. Medicare-Recognize that the group of people medicare is taking care of are the sickest and poorest. By adding young healthy citizens like myself to the program, the risk pool would become far healthier and costs per person would plummet. Even if the current fraud rate continues with medicare, the per person cost is substantially less than private insurance. This is because of the extremely low overhead rate and huge risk pool.

    4. I do not believe the administration-Nonnie, this isn't an all or nothing fight. We're trying to push the ball a little bit forward with a public option. It won't be perfect, but once it's in play it can be further refined. I certainly don't trust everything that is said, but I am willing to push past my concerns right now because I believe a public option is superior to our current system. Check out the PBS show for an unbiased look.

    5. Private insurance being pushed out-both medicare and the VA system consistently received higher patient satisfaction levels than any private medical insurance plan in the US. Suggesting that the public options (medicare) would offer worse coverage is not incorrect.

  10. The Wash Post polled 33% Reps and 20% Dems, which will give a skewed poll result as indicated here. Gotta read the fine print as to how they get the results they get.

  11. Oops, they interviewed 33% Dems and 20% Reps.

  12. 33% Dem, 20% GOP—interesting: that's in the ballpark of the percentages of Americans that polls indicate identify themselves with each party. It appears there are more folks calling themselves Dems than calling themselves Republicans. The poll thus appears to reflect the general population more fairly than if it had surveyed equal numbers from each party.

  13. Whooooa!

    Cory, the headline of the article to which your link points says, "Democrats claim only 20 percent of Americans call themselves Republicans" [emphasis mine].

    The conservative base in this country has high energy right now. A disproportionate number of Republicans might swarm the polls in November 2010.

    More on topic, this Republican (I switched back from Independent so I can vote for Munsterman in the primary) favors the public option! Go figure!


  14. Postscript/clarification:

    Cory says, "It appears there are more folks calling themselves Dems than calling themselves Republicans."

    A thorough read of the article bears this claim out.

    However! ...

    33% + 20% = 53%

    Where are the other 47%? How will they vote in November 2010?

  15. How will those "Other" 47% vote? That is the $64K question for anyone campaigning next year. My guess: 10% go Tea Party, 37% go Dem, as GOP can't sell itself to moderates.

    On the immediate issue, the original poll says independents favor a public option even without GOP votes in Congress, 52% to 35%. The president's support among independents is also "solidifying," says the article.

  16. Cory, where did you get the idea that independents are going Dem? I think a majority of them are getting very disenchanted with this administration's "hope and change" and lies.


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