Majority still support single-payer option, poll finds
By Sarah Ferris
The Hill, January 19, 2015
More than five years after the single-payer system was scrapped from ObamaCare policy debates, just over 50 percent of people say they still support the idea, including one-quarter of Republicans, according to a new poll.
The single-payer option – also known as Medicare for all – would create a new, government-run insurance program to replace private coverage. The system, once backed by President Obama, became one of the biggest casualties of the divisive healthcare debates of 2009.
The idea remains extremely popular among Democrats, with nearly 80 percent in support, according to the poll, which was shared first with The Hill by the Progressive Change Institute.
“There is a hunger in America for big progressive ideas," spokesperson TJ Helmstetter wrote in a statement. "The state of our union is progressive, and the president would be smart to give America the big, popular, progressive economic ideas that people have been crying out for.”
Another proposed idea under ObamaCare – the public option – also retains wide approval.
Only 13 percent of people said they opposed the public option, which would give individuals the choice of buying healthcare through Medicare or private insurers.
The Progressive Change Institute, which is a sister organization of the million-member Progressive Change Campaign Committee, has long supported the public option, which Helmstetter said would "level the playing field for consumers and dilute the power of insurance companies."
The approach was also an initial part of Obama's reform plan, though it was attacked by both parties on the Hill and was ultimately rejected in favor of a new, government-funded healthcare system based on subsidies.
At the time, Democrats leading the negotiations were accused of caving into corporate interests, while Obama was accused of “selling out.”
As recently as 2009, Obama has also said he is a proponent of the single-payer system, which remains far more controversial among policy experts.
The poll was comprised of 1,500 likely voters and was conducted this month by the firm GBA Strategies.
Single Payer: It's What the People Want
New poll shows majority of Americans support such a system
By Andrea Germanos
Common Dreams, Jan. 20, 2015
A majority of Americans support a single-payer, Medicare-for-all healthcare system, a new poll shows.
The results showed that just over 50 percent of the 1,500 likely voters surveyed indicated support for a single-payer system. Almost 80 percent of Democrats supported such a plan, while 25 of Republicans did.
The new poll comes on the heels of Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin's abandoning what was seen as a trailblazing plan to create a single-payer healthcare system in his state. The move was derided by Dr. Andrew D. Coates, immediate past president of Physicians for a National Health Program, who said, "Vermonters throughout the state understand that an equitable health care system must be truly universal and must remove all financial barriers to medically necessary care. They recognize that a public single payer is an essential incremental step toward these goals."
"The time for a single-payer system is now. Our patients in every state urgently need it," Coates added.
That sentiment is widely shared.
Dr. James Burdick, Professor of Surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, wrote in May that a single-payer system "is now recognized by many in the U.S. as the best solution for our health care problems."
Larry Smith, one of the subjects of Michael Moore's 2007 documentary film SiCKO, focused on the system's economic benefits, writing last month: "Single-payer health care reform (some call it improved and expanded Medicare for all for life) isn't just good for those folks under 65 who aren't yet on Medicare. Single-payer financing for our health care system isn't just good for public budgets and business bottom lines. Single-payer health care reform would allow most of us to spend a lot less than we do now on health care costs."
As Donna Smith, Larry's wife and indefatigable single-payer advocate has stressed, making a change to single-payer would also uproot the current system which she describes as a profit-driven healthcare "cartel."
"If we had an improved and expanded Medicare-for-all for life system, financed through a public, single-payer model, our system would be just that—our health care system. We would be the ones making sure that good health care access and fairly negotiated pricing was done in the best interests of us all. Until then, we are at the mercy of the health care cartel that is so powerful that it currently controls almost one-fifth of the U.S. economy," she wrote.
Single-payer supporter Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) agrees: "The goal of real health-care reform must be high-quality, universal coverage in a cost-effective way—with an emphasis on disease prevention. We must ensure, to as great a degree as possible, that the money we put into health coverage goes to the delivery of health care, not to paper-pushing, astronomical profits and lining CEOs' pockets."
Andrea Germanos is a staff writer at Common Dreams.
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