PNHP, February 25, 2016
Comment: by Don McCanne, M.D.
See: AP-GfK Poll: Support shaky for Sanders ‘Medicare for all’
Most polls place support for a single payer Medicare-for-all national health program at about 60%, with some variation based on labels, framing, and polling technique. Yesterday’s Kaiser poll placed it at 50%. This new Associated Press GfK poll places it at about 40%, but it is unusual in that over one-fourth of those polled expressed no preference. Of those expressing a preference, 54% were supportive and 46% opposed. But there was something else that was also very unusual about this poll.
Yesterday’s Kaiser poll demonstrated that the views on single payer were malleable. When asked about negative features that allegedly are associated with single payer, support declined, whereas support increased when asked about positive features. In this AP-GfK poll they were asked only about allegedly negative features, and support declined. But what were these negative features?
* Your own taxes would increase - But no mention was made of the savings in premiums, out-of-pocket expenses and other taxes that would more than offset the new taxes, resulting in a net savings.
* Some people needed to switch doctors - But that is a characteristic of private plans with their narrow networks whereas single payer provides free choice of health care professionals.
* It took longer for new drugs and treatments to become available - There is no way that the pharmaceutical industry is going to walk away from a $3 trillion market.
* Longer wait times for nonemergency medical services - Responsible stewards would use capacity adjustment and queue management to prevent excessive queues, as has been done successfully in several other nations.
* People needed to give up other coverage like employer coverage - But they would be trading that for a superior program with more comprehensive coverage, reduced out-of-pocket costs and greater choices in health care.
* The new system would replace Medicare for seniors - Who would want to continue with the current Medicare program that pays for only about half of health care when you could have an improved Medicare with more generous benefits?