16 February 2009

The Time is Right

Via Yglesias and Atrios, there is an interesting new CBS/NYT poll out today which shows that the american public is much more prepared to accept a primary role for government in the provision of health insurance.
Americans are more likely today to embrace the idea of the government providing health insurance than they were 30 years ago. 59% say the government should provide national health insurance, including 49% who say such insurance should cover all medical problems.
In January 1979, four in 10 thought the federal government should provide national insurance. Back then, more Americans thought health insurance should be left to private enterprise. 
                                            Now       1/1979
Private enterprise                    32%        48%
Government – all problems      49            28
Government – emergencies      10           12
Don’t know                              9            12

I don't think that the public is inclined to trust the government more now than they were 30 years ago -- quite the opposite.   But the experience of a private enterprise system has persuaded people that the government couldn't possibly be worse.   Never mind the 46 million left uninsured by private enterprise, it's the incessant hassles -- pre-authorizations, referrals, denial of claims, and retroactive cancelling of claims that has led a plurality of americans to conclude that they's be better off being done with private insurers and letting the government taking care of them.

Single-payer is not even on the table (Max Baucus, asked directly, said "I'm not going to waste my time on that.") but it's pretty clear that people are ready for an expansion of the public sector's role in health insurance.  It's serendipitous that this comes at a time when the planets are aligning in favor of the same -- a president committed to a national health plan, large democratic majorities in both houses of congress, and a rare consensus between labor and industry that health insurance should be guaranteed to all.  Now is the time.


  1. Is it not strange that since 1979, the government has gotten more involved in health care and the worse health care has gotten?

    There is price-fixing, EMTALA, Medicare, Medicaid, government subsidies, and mandated insurance requirements (in some states). Hawaii tried socialized medicine and it failed miserably. When the government gets involved in healthcare, problems happen.

    For some reason, people expect the government to fix problems that it caused.

  2. Well EMTALA might not be as big a problem if everyone had insurance...they might actually go see a primary care person instead of always turning up in the ER! (youthful idealism, i know, but i'm not a nurse YET, so indulge me)

  3. Why not? We just borrowed eleventy jizillion dollars, why not borrow another few bufillion? Tomorrow Obama will sign for more debt than the entire Iraq war and the New Deal combined.

    Is this the change you were hoping for? He's broken more campaign promises in the first two weeks than any president ever. What a corrupt, lying, incompetent POS.

  4. little d,

    EMTALA augments the problem of decreased numbers of primary care physicians because of the price-fixing and payment system which the government has created. Insurance will do nothing to decrease emergency department overcrowding if the shortage of primary care physicians is not addressed.

  5. For those of you who believe this crock please pay the $75.00 for an elementary economics class at your local junior college.

    This country is going to shit fast.Strong work democrats.

  6. pre-authorizations, referrals, denial of claims, and retroactive cancelling of claims.

    Do you ever do your homework, SF? These things are already done by Medicare and/or Medicaid. And, as government health programs crowd out private coverage, such practices will become more and more pervasive.


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