Americans continue to support public option for healthcare

New polling indicates that Americans want a government option for health care, they just don't want to use it

By Vincent Rossmeier
July 1, 2009 7:35PM (UTC)
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Congress is out of session until Monday, but the health care debate continues to rage both inside and outside of Washington. While many senators, like Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, have begun to fret about the unfair advantages a public health insurance option run through the U.S. government would have over private insurers, a new poll continues to show American voters have no such qualms: Voters overwhelmingly support a public option.

The poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, found that 69 percent of voters support a government-run health care option. This reinforces the results of other recent polls that have shown similarly high levels of support for a public option.


However, there's a caveat to the Quinnipiac findings. The same poll also showed that despite the public's embrace of creating a public plan, only 28 percent of those polled said they would choose to be covered by such a program. This trepidation of relying on government provided health care is echoed in another part of the poll's results: While a majority of those polled believe a public plan would help to keep private insurers "honest" and a majority thinks it's the government's duty to make sure everyone has adequate health care coverage, 58 percent said that government-run health care would be a "bad thing."

Meanwhile, as President Barack Obama plans to expand his nationwide push for health care reform in the coming weeks with a new ad campaign and another town-hall style meeting, a new CNN poll found that Americans support Obama's health care plan by only a slim majority, 51 percent to 45. By way of comparison, CNN points out that when former President Bill Clinton introduced his health care reform proposals in September 1993, 54 percent of those polled backed his policies.

Of course, Clinton was unable to enact major health care reform during his two terms in office. But the Quinnipiac poll indicated that voters still trust Obama more than Congressional Republicans on health care by a margin of 53 percent to 33 percent.

Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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