Poll: 86% Want Universal Coverage; 79% Want Government Option

Despite the carefully contrived optics — the cell-phone videos of deranged Tea-Baggers, Birthers and Deathers disrupting town hall meetings; the armed “right wing terrorists” posing menacingly outside the meeting halls; and signs depicting Pres. Obama as Hitler — and in spite of Republican propaganda about death panels and the rest, a new poll finds that huge majorities of American voters of all ages* remain solidly behind the Democrats’ two primary goals for health-insurance reform: insuring everyone and offering the public access to the same coverage available to elected officials, federal employees, the military and veterans:

Nearly 8 in 10 Americans support a federal health insurance plan for those who can’t afford or can’t get private insurance, but only 37 percent define “public option” correctly, a new national poll found.

The majority of people polled — 86 percent — say insurance should be available to everyone regardless of health history.


…79 percent say they believe a federal government health insurance option should be available for people to buy.

*  Update: To be clear, the survey was paid for by AARP but the survey group of 1,000 Democratic, Republican and independent voters was not limited to AARP members. According to this pdf, the age range of those polled was 61 percent 49 years old and younger, and 39 percent 50 years old and older.

On the downside, the poll, which was sponsored by the AARP and endorsed by Charlie Cook, whose reputation for non-partisanship is unchallenged — read: he leans to the right — found that about a quarter of people confuse the “public option” with single-payer national health plans like those offered by every leading democracy but the United States.

Republicans have ginned up their base to the point that extremists are ready to go to war — to soak the roots of the tree of liberty with the blood of government officials and themselves — in order to preserve trillions of dollars in profits for health plans.

It is likely that most of those who are confused about reform plans are Fox News watchers. A poll released last week found that about three-quarters of Fox watchers believed Republican disinformation and lies about health-insurance reform — including 72 percent who believed illegal aliens would be covered, 79 percent who were convinced that reforms are a government takeover, 69 percent who were sure abortions were covered and a whopping 75 percent who believe in fictitious “death panels” that would order the euthanizing of the elderly and infirm.

Other findings in the AARP poll include:

• More than half of those polled want health insurance reform, but 64 percent don’t want to pay more taxes to expand health coverage to the uninsured.

• Among those with health insurance, 74 percent say they are not willing to pay higher premiums.

• Almost three-quarters of people polled believe employers who don’t provide health insurance should be required to make a contribution to a fund to help uninsured employees purchase their own plan.

• Almost 70 percent of those polled believe in looking for savings in Medicare to pay for health care reform.

In the bigger picture, these poll results illustrate that the Republicans and their masters in the health-insurance lobby have played their hands masterfully — albeit dangerously, in that they have allowed and even encouraged violence to charge the atmosphere of the debate.

There is, of course, a bizarre aspect to the GOP strategy. They have ginned up the anger in their base to the point that extremists are ready to go to war — to soak the roots of the tree of liberty with the blood of government officials and themselves — in order to preserve trillions of dollars in profits for health plans.

Democrats still have a short window of time after the recess to reframe the debate, and while these results are encouraging, time is not on the side of reform.


  • Dave
    August 26, 2009 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    Excuse me, but who wrote this piece of left wing garbage?

  • William
    August 26, 2009 - 10:00 am | Permalink

    Facts have a liberal bias. It’s not really the facts’ fault. It’s just about having a political position that’s grounded in good political philosophy. That’s all that it is.

  • Greg
    August 26, 2009 - 10:17 am | Permalink

    Yeah where is all the rhetoric about the liberuls being socialists and fascists all at the same time. Also, I hate all these silly facts and statistics you use. Who cares if 3/4 of the country believe there should healthcare FOR ALL. I want my freedom to deny them humane treatment.

  • August 26, 2009 - 10:22 am | Permalink

    Dave, just look under the post’s title and you can see who wrote it. If you need further assistance, oh never mind…

    I assume since this is AARP conducting the poll, that they talked to people on Medicare. Although I will sooner rather than later (universe willing) join their ranks, I don’t think they should have a vote. They already have socialized health care.

  • August 26, 2009 - 10:39 am | Permalink

    The “public option” will lead to universal care. The “public option” is unsustainable. It will inevitably be reformed over and over until the universal option is the only alternative. This is the same problem with Medicare. It was passed and there’s no way to pay for it. Once the entitlement is created there’s no way back. Incremental statism at its finest.

    • August 26, 2009 - 10:49 am | Permalink

      But the private system has failed, Nemov. The health-insurance companies have had at least since 1993, when they paid Republicans, lobbyists and Harry and Louise $1 billion to kill the Clinton plan, to come up with a solution. Instead, the dueling crises of skyrocketing costs of care and of premiums and the rising number of uninsured have gotten steadily worse.

      The fact is, it’s cheaper in the long-run for the health plans to band together and pay Republicans and their propagandists on Fox News and hate radio to engage in a disinformation campaign to create fear and paranoia about reform than it is to reform their own industry. Every day that they stave off reform is another day insurance industry fatcats pocket another billion.

      Like it or not, the United States operates under a regulatory capitalist system. The plans have chosen profits over self-regulation — a choice they adamantly continue to make even as the wolves are baying at the door. If they wanted to solve the crises, they could do it now. Nothing is stopping them. But they won’t. They have brought the coming regulations and the government option upon themselves.

      Finally, the economies of Canada and the European democracies are thriving, comparatively, after decades of living under the jackboot of socialized medicine. It’s just plain silly that American conservatives believe that America can’t similarly thrive without a private insurance industry. Private insurance companies produce nothing. They are leeches on the United States and are sucking it dry.

  • August 26, 2009 - 11:10 am | Permalink

    Trish – AARP sponsored the poll but the age range included voters of all ages. I added an update stating that the age range of those polled was 61 percent 49 years old and younger, and 39 percent 50 years old and older. Thanks!

  • Glenn
    August 26, 2009 - 11:10 am | Permalink

    This is a example of why I am not a member of AARP.

  • Kevin
    August 26, 2009 - 11:44 am | Permalink

    Eventually we will have government provided health care, just like Canada, France, and the rest of the civilised world. Insurance companies and the free market had their chance and they failed. I find it interesting that no country that has socialised medicine has ever changed their minds and given it up.

  • Delphi
    August 26, 2009 - 2:20 pm | Permalink


    Public option will always lead to universal care?

    1. I welcome the day when we decide to offer everyone in America VA care, but I will settle with Medicare for all.

    2. Tell that to Sweden, France, Japan, and the rest of the socialist public option countries.

  • Scott
    August 26, 2009 - 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Mark Penn worked for the Clinton’s since the 1990’s. His firm clearly has a vested interest in this issue. Poltical polling firms are always biased.


  • Danny
    August 26, 2009 - 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I love the way this article classifies anything said not support of the result they clearly support is a lie or disinformation. I would submit that CNN, NBC, CBS and ABC all regularly lie and purposely distort the stories they air to support the liberal point of view. I travel the country every week and there is no way that these numbers are right, too many people I meet are very adamantly against Government Health Care. The government has done a wonderful job with the Post Office, the Rail system and VA health care haven’t they?

  • LookoutforChris
    August 26, 2009 - 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Dave, read the fucking by line.

  • BC
    August 26, 2009 - 3:00 pm | Permalink


    I gave a piece of paper and 44 cents to a guy at a counter, the other day and that piece of paper got to a business 2000 miles away in 2 days! What a failure! I got inside the big magic metal tube once. It got me all the way down the east coast in less than a day, for about 50 bucks! What a failure! A friend of mine went to the VA with an eye problem. They fixed it! For f’in’ free! What a failure!

    People say the same thing about the BMV, ’cause they have to take a f’in’ number and wait for a driver’s license (Sheesh! Driving is a right, isn’t it?). Here’s what I do: I open a medium sized artery and bleed all over the place! They’ll see you right away! Like hospitals do!

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  • dude
    August 26, 2009 - 8:33 pm | Permalink

    For you people complaining that the public option will become the only? Good grief listen to yourselves. Did the government take over the banks? Or did it just pay in to help to keep them from collapsing? Has it refused any of the paybacks of those banks which decided they didn’t need government aid after all? I don’t think so. You need to step back for a second and look at the rate that health care is increasing every single year. By far outstripping inflation. It is unsustainable. We have to do things now to stop this. What if your electric bill starting going up 10% every year? Would you ask governmetn to step in and keep that from happening? You really need to think on this for a while.

  • Tubby
    August 26, 2009 - 9:38 pm | Permalink

    “It is unsustainable. We have to do things now to stop this.”

    Right, but why this? Just because it’s a solution, doesn’t mean that it’s a good solution. Everyone thinks that the insurance companies are at fault, so the best they can come up with is to create another insurance company? Even full socialization of health care would be better than adding another insurance company to the market.

  • August 26, 2009 - 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Why are we rejecting reason?


    Freedom works, coercion doesn’t.

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  • vivzizi
    August 27, 2009 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    Britain began it’s national health care system immediately after World War II when most of it’s building’s laid in bombed out ruins and it was incredibly bankrupt.

    The National health Care system catalyzed the national causing economic growth with the huge numbers of new doctors and medical personnel being trained and the huge growth of the medical economy.

    National Health Care helped lift Britain out of economic collapse.

    The time for US National Health Care is NOW partly BECAUSE we are in an economic crisis. National Health Care can be the economic recover engine that causes the high wages jobs and taxable business growth we so desperately need.

    Would you rather have an economy based on pushing fraudulent paper on Wall Street or one rebuilt on growth in medical technology and personnel fueled by a large new demand driven expansion of the high tech high job need medical industry?

    And medical costs controls actual INCREASE innovation.
    In Japan they actual set maximum prices for certain medical procedures such as MRI. this prompted Japanese technology companies to redesign the MRI so it could be made more cheaply to increase profits. The resulting Japanese MRI machines is so much cheaper and more effective than previous MRI machines that the Japanese MRI is now taking over the market in other countries like the United States where it out competes US designed MRI’s which had virtually no cost pressures due to our skewed healthcare system which excludes those who have lower incomes.
    Now is the time.

  • individualterry
    August 27, 2009 - 10:31 am | Permalink

    WHO is going to say people who do not have insurance should NOT be able to get it ? this is typical liberal bullshit. nice try but noodys bying.ASK the people if they are willing to give up their ins. plan so the poor and have nots can share with them their misery and by the way your government will look after it for you…watch those results . You must be one of Bill Maher” s 60 percenters!

  • Vivzizi
    August 27, 2009 - 12:28 pm | Permalink

    individualterry must not be rich.

    If he was he would know rich people can’t get private health insurance either when they have a preexisting condition.

    Rich people have their treatments rationed through “excluded treatments” by the private health insurance industry too.

    Rich people also have their private health insurance company telling their doctor what he can do for them.

    Furthermore Rich people who own businesses have to choose to hire only employees that won’t raise their health insurance premiums instead of the best skilled employee.

    If less poor people would stop pretending they thinking like the rich we would all be better off.

  • Vivzizi
    August 27, 2009 - 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Micheal Jackson had private healthcare.

  • Vivzizi
    August 27, 2009 - 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Millions more people have died in private insurance company death panels than in Ted Kennedy’s car.

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