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:
• Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates PDF
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.
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.