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Polling: How you discuss single payer matters

The Economist/YouGov Poll
April 2-4, 2017

81. Do you favor or oppose expanding Medicare to provide health insurance to every American?

60% - Favor strongly or favor somewhat

23% - Oppose strongly or oppose somewhat

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net...

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The Economist/YouGov Poll
June 25-27, 2017

61. Do you favor or oppose creating a single-payer health care system, in which all Americans would get their health insurance from one government plan that is financed by taxes?

44% - Favor strongly or favor somewhat

31% - Oppose strongly or oppose somewhat

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net...

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Comment:

By Don McCanne, M.D.

During a time when there is a crescendo of support for single payer/Medicare for All, the Economist/YouGov polls suggest that support declined during the past couple of months. There is a lesson here, but it is not that single payer support is fading.

The single payer policy community would recognize these two questions as being essentially the same from a policy perspective. But the layman hears the first question as being the expansion of Medicare to cover everyone (Medicare for All), whereas the second question is about single payer, government, and taxes (single payer). The first is about a popular insurance program which we have all earned and eventually participate in, and would it be that everyone could be included. The second is about government taking over health care and us being taxed for it when the insurance benefit at work seems to be working just fine, and the boss is already paying for most of it anyway. At least that’s often the perception.

We already knew this. “Medicare for all” polls better than does “single payer.” What is reassuring is that people are beginning to understand the single payer concept well enough such that there is more support than opposition, even if it is a government program for which we will be taxed. The term “single payer” is out there and will be used by friend and foe alike, so people have to understand that it refers to an improved version of Medicare in which everyone gets to participate.

The lesson? We should not only continue with but we should expand our education and advocacy activities through coalitions and grassroots efforts. The people are getting the word. Support is burgeoning. Soon the public will be immunized against the soundbites of the opponents.