Why an Obamacare “Public Plan” should be an easy target
posted at 7:52 am on June 24, 2009 by Karl
After Obamacare ran into trouble in Congress last week, the Left grasped at isolated questions in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal and CBS/New York Times polls, purporting to show overwhelming support for a government-run insurance plan. I was not impressed by the wording of the questions, and even less impressed by the lack of follow-up questions that would have tested that support.
However, I just came across the Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll, which asked those sorts of questions in late April. The results are highly instructive.
The KFF poll showed that 67% percent supported creating a government-administered public health insurance option similar to Medicare to compete with private health insurance plans. Indeed, if people were told that it would give them more choices and drive down costs by competing with private insurance, support would jump another 11% — right into the range of those the aforementioned MSM polls.
However, if people heard that the public plan would be a first step toward single-payer, government-run healthcare, support dropped to 41%. And if people heard the public plan would give the government an unfair advantage over private insurance companies, support dropped to 32%.
As the healthcare deabte unfolds, opponents of a public plan can unroll video after video after video demonstrating that those pushing a public plan see it as the foot in the door to single-payer, government-run healthcare.
On the second point, Pres. Obama has now publicly admitted that “there is a legitimate concern if the public plan was eating off the taxpayer trough, it would be hard for private insurers to compete.” The public will quickly come to realize that unfair competition is the entire point of a public plan.
All anyone need do to demonstrate the point is to ask what would happen if the public plan ran into financial trouble. Does anyone seriously think that after bailing out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG and GM (soon to be owned by the very UAW whose legacy healthcare costs made GM’s business unprofitable), the feds would fail to shovel money into a public plan far beyond the $10 billion in seed money Sen Chuck Schumer is already trying to lift from the taxpayers’ wallets?
Moreover, Independents and Republicans can be moved by arguing that if the federal government requires all employers to provide health insurance for their employees or pay to support a public plan, employers will likely drop their coverage and shift their employees into a public plan. The Lewin Group has estimated that about 119 million people would shift from their current coverage to the public plan, which is a two-thirds reduction in the number of people with private coverage.
In sum, it’s easy to find a poll that shows mile-wide support for a public plan. It’s much harder to find one that shows support more than a couple of inches deep.