New Poll Finds Most Americans Back Public Option In Health Reform
The Washington Post leads the paper today with a report that "a new Washington Post-ABC poll shows that support for a government-run health-care plan to compete with private insurers has rebounded from its summertime lows and wins clear majority support from the public." A rift remains among Americans on the overall shape of the plans. "But sizable majorities back two key and controversial provisions: both the so-called public option and a new mandate that would require all Americans to carry health insurance."
The Post notes that "independents and senior citizens, two groups crucial to the debate, have warmed to the idea of a public option, and are particularly supportive if it would be administered by the states and limited to those without access to affordable private coverage." In the poll, 57 percent of Americans favor the public option while 40 percent oppose it. Only 45 percent favor the outlines of the plans moving through Congress, however, with 48 percent opposed (Balz and Cohen, 10/20).
ABC News reports that the GOP is finding itself in challenging political times: "Only 20 percent of Americans now identify themselves as Republicans, the fewest in 26 years. Just 19 percent, similarly, trust the Republicans in Congress to make the right decisions for the country's future; even among Republicans themselves just four in 10 are confident in their own party. For comparison, 49 percent overall express this confidence in Obama, steady since August albeit well below its peak."
"The president's ratings on domestic issues underscore their particularly contentious nature. ... On health care, he gets an even split: 48 percent approve, 48 percent disapprove, again with more strongly disapproving, 38 percent, than strongly approving, 30 percent" (Langer, 10/19).
The Boston Globe's Political Intelligence blog: "While 7 in 10 Democrats back the plan being put together, Obama's strong approval ratings on health care from fellow Democrats have dropped 15 percentage points since mid-September" (Rhee, 10/19).
AFP reports the poll questioned 1,004 adults from October 15-18, and reports on American attitudes toward reform and the national deficit: "Only 10 percent of those surveyed believed claims that health care reform could decrease the deficit, while 68 said they expected it would increase the US deficit." For 31 percent, however, an increase would be a worthy tradeoff for universal care compared to 37 percent who said it would not be worth the increase (10/20).
Separately, The Associated Press reports on a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation monthly poll which found that 1/3 of Americans said they are worried about losing current coverage in September, up from 29 percent in August. "The worries about losing health insurance were greatest among young adults (40 percent), followed by middle-aged people (38 percent). But 29 percent of seniors also said they were worried, even though they have taxpayer-subsidized coverage through Medicare."
The poll also revealed that more than half of Americans say they are following the debate closely (Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/20).
Finally, NPR reports that the health care reform debate looks different outside Washington. NPR's Joanne Silberner interviews families and individuals with their own ideas on health care. "On her drive down Interstate 95, she stopped to find out what people along the way had to say about the efforts in Washington to overhaul the nation's health care system." Family restaurant owner Chris Zourzoukis said "Sometimes I lose money on this business, you know. So, if I have to pay the insurance for the employees, I have to keep money from them" (Silberner, 10/18).