Sunday, June 21, 2009

Unsurprising News

The NYT/CBS poll reported in today's NY Times contained a few mildly surprising findings, but, for the most part, it substantiated what most of us suspected all along: Americans want health care access broadened and that system fixed.

Americans overwhelmingly support substantial changes to the health care system and are strongly behind one of the most contentious proposals Congress is considering, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The poll found that most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector. ...

The national telephone survey, which was conducted from June 12 to 16, found that 72 percent of those questioned supported a government-administered insurance plan — something like Medicare for those under 65 — that would compete for customers with private insurers. Twenty percent said they were opposed.
[Emphasis added]

Ideally the results of that poll would take the air out of the gasbags who are trying to move the public option back off the table (I'm looking at you, Mr. Baucus), but this is not yet an ideal world. My non-scientific opinion is that 80% of congress critters will ignore any poll that doesn't suit them, and these results will not suit those members of the House and Senate who have accustomed themselves to the largess of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

Unless the 72% who support the public option translate that support into meaningful action, we won't get that public option, let alone a single payer system in the future. Many progressive groups have been inundating Congress with petitions signed by thousands of Americans in favor of the public plan, but that hasn't made much of a dent. Thousands of post cards, letters, and telephone calls, on the other hand, might, especially with mid-term elections just a little over a year away. Even more persuasive might be some visits to the local offices of congressional members to explain politely that it's time that regular Americans get decent health care at an affordable cost, even if those same regular Americans can't get the coverage that their representatives have.

Insurance companies don't vote, but citizens can. Explaining that simple fact just might get some attention, even from the most hide-bound free-market ideologue. It's time the electorate quit being so passive. It is, after all, our government, not theirs.

Do it.

[Note: the complete poll results can be found here.]

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