Matthew Holt

Public Still Backs the Public Plan

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that President Obama in his speech tonight will renew his support for including a public plan option in health care reform. He will also endorse an individual mandate, which could cost uncurrently uninsured families as much as $3,800 a year for health insurance.

Meanwhile, recent polling suggests the public is still in the president’s corner on the public plan. This from today’s New York Times:

After weeks filled with seemingly ominous portents for Mr. Obama’s ambitions, there is evidence that public opinion remains basically supportive of him. Despite intense controversy over the “public option,” a government-backed insurance plan that would compete with the private sector, a CBS poll at the end of August found that 60 percent of Americans still support the idea, down from 66 percent in July. And half the respondents to the poll said Mr. Obama had better ideas on health care than Republicans, down from 55 percent.

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  1. The child had a chance.
    Karen, you might want to check with some qualified neonatologists on that one.
    Seriously.
    As much as you do not want to hear it, medicine is very much indeed a numbers game.

  2. Like everything else, there is a massive disconnect from the left and right. The problem is the federal government overreaching into areas that it was never designed to be involved in. It was only supposed to be involved in things the states asked them to with a large majority. That is why we have the amendment process to the constitution. The beauty of this is that it takes issues like this back to the states and thus the local people. Doing this means that the states that want to live with socialist policies can continue to push ever more benefits and free stuff to the people of their state and figure out how to pay for them as they do so. States that want to have things like abortion can do so and the ones that don’t can also do so. If one lives in a state where they have all of these benefits and is tired of having his paycheck taken from him has the ability to move to a state that is free of these burdens. People that want free stuff can move to where they are provided.
    The problem of the federal government overreach is that it eventually leads to people being forced to pay for things they do not agree with and to see actions taken they do not believe right. This leads to wars in countries over time and I think we are just starting to see the anger build up on both sides. If those who want free healthcare driven by the government want this, they should draw up a plan in amendment form and get it passed and sent out to the states. If the federal government tries to over reach, the court should step in and say that is not constitutional, go back to the legislative process. It is interesting to see that since 1971 we have not had an amendment proposed. In that time, the courts have been used to legislate and this has lead to very high levels of anger.
    You want to bring America together, go back to what made it great and that is the three branches of government acting as designed, the fourth branch calling them out when they get out of what they are supposed to do, and get back to where the states have control on issues that should be settled in the states. This requires you to build a concensus with good arguments and brings the people along. Right now we have a one party system and it is not in any way following the constituion.

  3. Republicans in the House and Senate still trippin
    They authorize billions for tanks and weapons
    Making collateral damage the explanation
    For the loss of so many children
    Yet, access to health care can’t include a public option
    Can’t afford to pay for it is the reason given
    Even though the insurance companies agree they loss if it’s open competition
    They probably banking on us not to pay attention
    That’s why they use scare tactics and play politics with the President’s legislation
    We voted for change from the old status quo policies
    Equal pay for women and stable economy
    Plus, a crack down on Wall Street and credit card agencies
    Just a few accomplishments from his young presidency
    A man worth over 100 million still fighting for decency
    He understood bottom-up is how America will stay wealthy
    Which led him to treat everyone with respect and humility
    Washington, D.C. could use more like Ted Kennedy
    It’s time to mobilize against the stale GOP
    Their only contribution is opposition to any policy
    Scared of the significance of giving the president this victory
    They would rather build schools and hospitals in Iraqi than their own country
    When the truth is health care legislation will not only get us healthy
    But create jobs without always using our military

  4. I’m from Sweden and I’ve just heard the speech regarding health care in USA with great interest since I’m currently taking a course in rhetoric. First I must say, WOW! He is one good public speaker!
    But regarding your health care, for me as a European the whole issue seems really strange. The biggest shame of your nation is your current health care system. Sick people are denied lifesaving health care on the basis of them being poor, or just since have sick before and their insurance company have dropped them.
    People who are hurt and sick are not just hurting from their condition, they are sent to financial ruin as well. That’s just inhumane and it’s something America should be ashamed of at the moment.
    Look at the developed countries all over the world, your current way isn’t working. Stop acting like ostriches and pull your head out of the sand and see how weird it is. I’m not a socialist, I consider myself to be a liberal capitalist. But on the other hand I’m not inhumane. Some aspects of life, like health care, shouldn’t be subjected to “money hungry profit increasing bureaucrats”. Instead they should be managed in a way that will give the best available care at the lowest cost with focus on the patient. This can not happen if insurance companies, without extremely strict regulation, are trying to increase their wealth at the same time.
    Just my humble opinion. // Oscar

  5. Most people on this blog with a perspective from the right don’t care or support the republican plans, we favor conservative plans that as a foundation allow American’s to blow every last penny they have on healthcare no matter how futile some politician in DC thinks it is. What made America great was the opportunity we gave everyone no matter how many weeks old they were when born.

  6. Seeing that Democrats control the committees and only HR 3200 has made it out of committee what more can Republicans possibly have done? Republicans can’t really propose bills, their only avenue is offering up amendments. The GOP website outlines their proposals. They aren’t very good but they have been very vocal about their ideas. The problem is a bias Media will interrupt my prime time viewing any time Obama wants to take his teleprompter for a night out on the town but won’t cover Republican alternatives no matter what.
    “to the part of the legislation that mandates affordable universal heath insurance”
    This is the fallacy of all Liberal reform. What you mention is an outcome or result, you can’t legislate end results. Obama will promise this all day even though he has no plan to deliver it. The left eats this up then is shocked when it doesn’t come to be. Read Kennedy’s promises in 1973 in regards to HMOs. Or look up the promises about Medicare in 1965. Both were sold by promising results but failed to deliver miserably.
    The Republicans believe their plans will greatly reduce the cost of insurance which will get us closer to universal coverage. They are smart enough to know you can’t legislate it, you work to it. Personally I think they will make things worse but not nearly as bad as what Obama’s plan would do.
    “And the part that says insurance companies can no longer drop people because of their condition”
    This is already illegal and doesn’t happen.
    “or charge rates that are simply unaffordable.”
    Rates are only unaffordable when people wait till they have unaffordable claims to buy coverage.
    We have come a long way from your original claim haven’t we. The answers are there they just aren’t handed to you by the Media spinning for the left.
    Speaking of Liberals and not being able to read;
    “lower (or eliminate) deductibles and co-pays,”
    The elimination of cost sharing leads to unrestrained utilization which leads to bankruptcy. Almost every country with single payer or nationalized care is raising or proposing raising co-pays and cost sharing. While the rest of the world grapples with the reality that you can’t deliver free care you propose delivering free care. Amazing how little thought liberals have given to this.
    “why not wait until a health care bill is finalized before commenting.”
    John maybe because Obama was trying to slam a bill down everyones throat like they did the stimulus? There wouldn’t have been time to argue the bill after it was finalized. Did you really not see how they tried to rush the bill before debate materialized or was that what you hoped for?

  7. According to the Aug. 11 Rasmussen poll, Americans don’t approve ObamaCare.
    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/august_2009/support_for_congressional_health_care_reform_falls_to_new_low
    The opening post appears to be intentionally misleading. We need links to show public support.
    Lede graphs:
    Support for Congressional Health Care Reform Falls to New Low
    Tuesday, August 11, 2009 Email to a Friend ShareThis
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    Public support for the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats has fallen to a new low as just 42% of U.S. voters now favor the plan. That’s down five points from two weeks ago and down eight points from six weeks ago.
    A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that opposition to the plan has increased to 53%, up nine points since late June.
    More significantly, 44% of voters strongly oppose the health care reform effort versus 26% who strongly favor it. Intensity has been stronger among opponents of the plan since the debate began.
    Sixty-seven percent (67%) of those under 30 favor the plan while 56% of those over 65 are opposed. Among senior citizens, 46% are strongly opposed.
    Predictably, 69% of Democrats favor the plan, while 79% of Republicans oppose it. Yet while 44% of Democratic voters strongly favor the reform effort, 70% of GOP voters are strongly opposed to it.
    Most notable, however, is the opposition among voters not affiliated with either party. Sixty-two percent (62%) of unaffiliated voters oppose the health care plan, and 51% are strongly opposed. This marks an uptick in strong opposition among both Republicans and unaffiliateds, while the number of strongly supportive Democrats is unchanged.
    (Want a free daily e-mail update? If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.
    Despite the loss of support, 51% of all voters still say it is at least somewhat likely that the health care proposal will become law this year. That figure has hardly budged since the debate began and now includes 18% who say passage is very likely. Thirty-nine percent (39%) say passage of the plan is unlikely, but only 10% say it is not at all likely.

  8. Gee thanks Jerry but no thanks! Distorted? You don’t know that. I know the guideline whys for govt.health care. I am not interested in numbers. The child had a chance. I was given a 20% survival chance of living 5 years. That was 40 years ago. I hope you have the wisdom and the heart to give the people you come in contact with, the best that they deserve. I know you have a difficult job but with all due respect your heart part may need a refresher.

  9. Glad I followed the link in your name back to your blog, Karen.
    You’re into some…interesting stuff.
    I see you also linked to the distorted account of the U.K. preemie.
    Give me a holler if you ever want a chance to understand the purpose of guidelines regarding treatment for premature infants (particularly those born as early as the baby in this case), as well as the data on outcomes in such cases.
    Reality is much more grim than fantasy. But at least it’s reality.

  10. What is generally consist is that the general public has no clue what the hell the Obama’s health care plan includes. I follow health policy pretty closely and I couldn’t begin to tell you what all of the amendments to the Baucas bill cover.
    I take any poll that has a question that states “the general public supports the public option” with about as much validity as I did George Will’s idiotic statement the other week about how the Americans showing up at the Town Halls have read HR3200 and found vehemently disagreed with it. Please.
    When the hell do any Americans read an actual piece of legislation let alone actually understand the byzantine language used it?

  11. Dennis, you ask what reform legislation the Republicans have proposed. You must have missed my blog post Monday on exactly that subject, analyzing the merits and flaws of two broad GOP bills. Take a look. As I argue, the reason the Republicans aren’t talking about these bills is because they involve controversial political and policy choices that could cause a lot of blowback.
    https://thehealthcareblog.com/the_health_care_blog/2009/09/an-analysis-of-the-gop-plan.html#comments

  12. Oh BALONEY! The public is not behind the health care plan and you know it. The NYT poll can’t be trusted. David Rockefeller thanked them when he said to them, ‘We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine, and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination [read as ‘democracy’] practiced in past centuries.”
    –June 5, 1991, Bilderberger meeting in Baden Baden, Germany (a meeting also attended by then-Governor Bill
    Follow the money. Big Pharma will make a lot of money on this .
    The survival rate for cancer is much higher here than in Europe.
    We can fix our medical coverage but it doesn’t need to cost much or incur massive legislation.
    Section 102 of the bill will guarantee you will lose your private coverage. if your employer adds 1 new employee or makes the cost of the coverage less for the employee or adds any new benefits such as a new cancer drug ,you will lose your private coverage. It will revert to the govt. plan that even govt.employees won’t be on.

  13. Jerry,
    Here’s a quick take on what’s problematic with the Republican proposals:
    There is no mandate that everyone have coverage. There is no mandate that heath plans cover people with pre-existing conditions. So, I don’t see what problem the Republicans are trying to solve here. And I haven’t addressed the fact that I don;t see how the working poor can afford these plans.
    It’s curious that the Republicans complain about government involvement, but then one of these plans calls for creating a “Health Care Services Commission. So why all the fuss about govt. bureaucracy?

  14. I hope any public plan will not be “like” insurance, if it is then why have it. We’ve got plenty of insurance companies willing to screw us along with the rest of the healthcare industry, we don’t need another one fronting as government healthcare. Don’t get too excited about lowering coverage costs as any public plan will be careful to tread lightly on political ($$$)toes and will not have the financial muscle to exert much downward pressure on costs. Frankly I see a public plan outside of Medicare as ludicrous and more expensive than it needs to be. But for now I’ll take what we can get – on to single-pay.

  15. Dennis – If you’re looking for more info about the Baucus document, you could try a popular search engine, like Google.
    The link to yesterday’s analysis of DeMint’s and Coburn’s plans would also probably answer your other question.
    Thanks

  16. **Medicare has taken care of most of the older, sicker (loss leaders) clients for fourty years, and has done a remarkable job of it….A federal plan (Medicare) is already running health care coverage more efficiently than private insurers**
    Well, it is simply not so. Hospitals lose money on medicare patients because the govt arbitrarily pays less than cost. Hospitals make up for it by the money they make on private payors. Eliminate (or drastically curtail) the private payors and medicare will suddenly have to be much more expensive as it will have lost its subsidy from private industry.
    As a physician, I dislike the preauthorization needed by private insurers. I dislike the constant need to justify the use of other than generic drugs. But I do recognize that such policies lower overall health care costs. Medicare does none of that. It has no disease management programs, no policies in place (unlike private insurers) to discourage overuse of imaging, etc.
    So to say that medicare is “more efficient” is a joke. Medicare makes zero attempt at cost containment other than to have a global annual budget. Medicare is going broke despite the fact that it is currently subsidized by private payors. If everyone in this country had medicare as their health insurance, with no other changes, it would be a disaster.

  17. Doctors may tire of tight fisted payers, but patients tire of doctors stuffing pockets full of cash while we’re literally and figuratively dying from lack of diagnoses.
    We’re mad, and now that a public option may be available we’re hoping that someone, anyone will start looking at arrogant, ignorant, incompetent doctors.

  18. One feels that there is a need to at least give his policy a chance. Public is clearly backing his plans because they trust him at present (which might be beyond the reason of a utilitarian health reform)

  19. Jerry,
    The link you provided doesn’t take me to any bipartisan plan, just the subcommittee home page. Got another link? Like a lot of others, I’m still waiting to see what it says. It may be a non-starter for Jed Lewison of the Dailykos, but he doesn’t speak for most people I know.
    Regarding polls, I frankly don’t care what any poll says about “public option” or “single payer.” Most people couldn’t even tell you what their own plan covers and does not cover. What matters is the public’s moral, value judgement of universal health insurance.
    Regarding the Republican’s “tax cuts” approach to health care, I still don’t see how a person making $25,000 a year with a pre-existing condition is going to be helped by that — and that’s the population that needs health care insurance the most. Private insurance companies will not cover that person — at a price that person can afford — without a government mandate to. Is that in the GOP plan?

  20. Making it illegal for an insurer to deny coverage for pre-existing disease, may be a very simple thing to do. But opponents of health care reform will say that this is another “government” intrusion, legislating private insurers what to do. Medicare has taken care of most of the older, sicker (loss leaders) clients for fourty years, and has done a remarkable job of it. Private insurers will not want to continue losing customers. At some point, rationing their health care coverage by outting people with pre-existing disease can only go so far.
    A federal plan (Medicare) is already running health care coverage more efficiently than private insurers. As far as running a deficit, the obligation to fund Medicare is an obligation of the general fund. The government has spent virtually every penny of the Medicare trust fund on tax cuts for high bracket payers, but they still owe this money to the program. The people who saved billions in taxes at the expense of the trust fund should know that the taxman will be coming back. The government is going to have to put that actual cash they borrowed, back.

  21. **The public option would force the private insurers stop denying coverage for pre-existing conditions**
    Says who? Coverage is denied for cetain pre-exisitng diseases because these people (and their diseases) are very expensive to care for. Any private insurer would be more than happy to let a govt funded plan take care of the loss leaders. You can make it illegal for an insurer to deny coverage for pre-existing disease; very simple to do. Just understand that it will RAISE the cost of health care for everyone else.
    Paraphrase: The public option would force the private insurers to lower insurance premiums, lower (or eliminate) deductibles and co-pays, and add more people (even sicker ones) to the pool.
    Says who? You think a federal plan will be run more efficiently than a private company? Don’t make me laugh. If there is a government option (and let’s stop euphemisticly calling it a “public” option)it will run at a deficit (unlike private insurers)and be subsidized by ever more tax dollars. If sicker patients are added to the pool, the cost of insuring that pool will go up, not down. Now, it may well be a desirable social goal to insure these sicker patients (I think it is), but do not pretend that this will do anything other than RAISE the cost of health care for society as a whole. When Obama says that a public option would not be shackled by a profit motive he means it will be run at a loss…who do you think will pay for the red ink?
    Health care costs are increasing faster than inflation because:
    1) We are in the midst of a demographic tsunami. As a socity we are getting older at a faster and faster rate.
    As we age we use exponentailly more health care resources.
    2) Unlike most other industries, medical advances are generally more expensive, not less expensive. I could detail the differences in the medical care of an MI in 1960 and now but suffice it to say that the care now is at least 100 times more costly than 50 years ago. Mortality has dropped form 40% to 6% as a result, but no one is saving any money.
    3) The real money saving comes in lifestyle modification; smoking, obesity, sedentary life, etc. These are not health care delivery issues, they are societal issues.
    Since the three main drivers of the rapid increase in health care costs are unrelated to the health care delivery system it is illusory to think that changing the health care system will solve the problem.
    Getting most everone insured is the easy part. Containing the cost of such action is not.

  22. Dennis:
    The subgroup of the Healthcare Subcommittee at Senate Finance (i.e. just Baucus, Conrad, Bingaman, Grassley, Snowe, Enzi) did indeed release their “plan.”
    I’m gonna guess it’s a non-starter.
    But, ya never know…
    Merrill’s overall point is spot-on. When it’s polled accurately (i.e., the questions are properly framed), the public option gets strong support.
    If anybody’s got good polling on single payor, before it was taken off the table by Dems negotiating against themselves, I’d love to see it.
    As for any repub legislative proposals, that was a topic here yesterday.
    Shorter version – more tax cuts.

  23. Greg
    While I’d rather have a public option than not, I still think affordable universal coverage can succeed even if it’s not in what congress finally approves. One idea floating around is for state governments to set up a public option. Image some of the large states like California or New York setting up a public plan for its residents. Enough pressure from the states can eventually get Congress on board with a national plan.

  24. Being that health care reform is currently a work in progress by Congress, It certainly appears that it is an easy target for rumors, myths, and fear-mongering by panic nut cases pushing their own narrow agendas. Instead of wasting everyone’s time with misinformation, why not wait until a health care bill is finalized before commenting. I am not associated with any political party, but it seems that most of the flak is coming from the insurance community and the Republicans. Considering their “bypartisan” track record in recent years, I would say that if the Republicans are against any of the proposals being made, then these proposals must have some good points and I am for them.

  25. Why do some proponents of the public option plan insist it is not the where-with-all of health care reform? It is one of the most crucial parts of insurance reform. How else are we going to force the private insurers to be honest?
    The public option would force the private insurers stop denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, lower insurance premiums, lower (or eliminate) deductibles and co-pays, and add more people (even sicker ones) to the pool.
    Is Congress going to “legislate” private insurers to do this? Or do we have some competition with a public option that forces private insurers to compete, instead of consolidating their market share?
    Dennis
    The ad hominem attack is the last refuge of the indefensible. They don’t have an argument that’s substantial, thus they refer to decoy arguments.

  26. Nate, Ad hominem attacks are not called for. (i.e., “are liberals too stupid to read or too dishonest to have a debate with?”) I’m aware that many Republican Amendments have been incorporated into committee markups. I don’t see the committee markup process as anything other than tinkering at the edges. That’s what I meant to say.
    What I haven’t found is a competing vision of legislation the congressional Republicans wish to propose. They haven’t talked about that. They don’t mention it in floor speeches or on TV talk shows. Maybe I’ve missed that; I only see them attacking the Democrats. Can you direct me to that?
    And if you do, direct me to the part of the legislation that mandates affordable universal heath insurance (or explicity point out that that is not there). And the part that says insurance companies can no longer drop people because of their condition, or charge rates that are simply unaffordable.
    These are the positions where the public is strongly behind Obama, and the Republicans do not talk about. Maybe they agree. Do they? How do they intend to make that work?

  27. Dennis don’t read much? The question is are liberals to stupid to read or to dishonest to have a debate with?
    “When the Senate health, education, labor, and pensions committee passed its health care bill Wednesday, the Obama administration hailed it as a “bipartisan” effort.”
    “Of the 788 amendments filed, 67 came from Democrats and 721 from Republicans.”
    http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/news/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=7325
    “On July 16th, 2009, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce began its markup of H.R. 3200 “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009″. Below are summaries, vote tallies, and text of amendments offered to H.R. 3200.”

  28. I’m not surprised that the public still largely backs Obama. The Republicans have done one of two things on health care: given lip service or engaged in scare tactics. They haven’t (at least publicly) offered to incorporate any of their proposals into the legislation passing through the committees, only insist that things be taken out. Unless Baucus comes through with an agreement today, Obama’s only move after his speech will be to gather enough Democratic votes for passage.

  29. There was never a lack of support for public plan. What is needed is the cost reduction…and that is lacking.
    Here is what we need: A total redesign of healthcare system. We do not have one or if we have, it is so broken that it cannot be fixed.
    You do not have to implement everything day one…just define goal and implement in phases as sudden implementaion will create large disruptions.
    There was a great panel discussion on CNBC for which I put summary on my blog…it iwas amazing to see that how diverse the panel was and yet all agree we must cut cost.
    I support public plan and infact to the extent a part of it should be tax funded and other personally financed…BUT COST CUTTING MUST HAPPEN.
    No one is doing that. Negotiative 100 billion saving over 10 years is of no use when you have over 500 billion dollar opportunities or 5,000 billion opportunities over the same 10 yr period.
    rgds
    ravi
    blogs.biproinc.com/healthcare
    http://www.biproinc.com

  30. After seeing the news reports on Senator Baucus’ proposal for fining Americans without health insurance then it’s imperative that there be a Public Option.
    I’m not interested in spending double or triple what I pay now under COBRA to get private insurance. Private insurance is required, under HIPAA, to provide my wife and I insurance since I have continuous coverage, but they will charge exorbitant rates due to our previous conditions
    Only a Public Option will be affordable to families like ours.

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