Friday, August 21, 2009

Huge majority of Americans support "choice" of public option

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Good news, from HuffPo:

More than three out of every four Americans feel it is important to have a "choice" between a government-run health care insurance option and private coverage, according to a public opinion poll released on Thursday.

A new study by SurveyUSA puts support for a public option at a robust 77 percent, one percentage point higher than where it stood in June.

But the numbers tell another story, as well.

Earlier in the week, after pollsters for NBC dropped the word "choice" from their question on a public option, they found that only 43 percent of the public were in favor of "creating a public health care plan administered by the federal government that would compete directly with private health insurance companies."

Opponents of the president's agenda jumped on the findings as evidence that backing for the public option was dropping. Proponents responded by arguing that NBC's tinkering with the language of the question (which it had also done in its July survey) had contributed to the drop in favorability for a public plan.

SurveyUSA's poll, which was commissioned by the progressive group, a proponent of the public plan, gives credence to those critiques. While arguments about what type of language best describe the public option persist --"choice" is considered a trigger word that everyone naturally supports -- it seems clear that the framing of the provision goes a long way toward determining its popularity.

The right will jump all over this poll, and these numbers, given that it was conducted by However, "SurveyUSA used the same exact words that NBC/Wall Street Journal had used when conducting its June 2009 survey. That one that found 76 percent approval for the public option."

In other words, contrary to what Republicans would have us believe, there is overwhelming support for a public option in any health-care reform bill. No, Americans don't want a single-payer system like the one we have here in Canada -- or at least don't think they do (it's not like most Americans are in a position to make an informed judgement, not least because of Republican propaganda and media negligence/malfeasance -- but, then, such a system isn't on offer here.

That point must be stressed: Obama and the Democrats want choice. A public option would be another choice, one that would provide insurance to the uninsured and an alternative to those with inadequate coverage. It's that simple.

Now if only the White House and its allies in Congress would get the message out more effectively. And if only the media would stop providing a platform for, and legitimating, Republican propaganda.

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  • Yes, a majority want a public OPTION. That's the key word - OPTION! What they're afraid of is that private insurance companies will go out of business or at least become even more expensive than they already are and they will be forced into a public "nonoption." Nice distortion, Creature!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:39 AM  

  • Oh, sorry, you're actually Stickings, but you're all the same to me -- full of shit.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:41 AM  

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