Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The public is warming to the public option

According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll:

Independents and senior citizens, two groups crucial to the debate, have warmed to the idea of a public option, and are particularly supportive if it would be administered by the states and limited to those without access to affordable private coverage....

On the issue that has been perhaps the most pronounced flash point in the national debate, 57 percent of all Americans now favor a public insurance option, while 40 percent oppose it. Support has risen since mid-August, when a bare majority, 52 percent, said they favored it. (In a June Post-ABC poll, support was 62 percent.)

If a public plan were run by the states and available only to those who lack affordable private options, support for it jumps to 76 percent. Under those circumstances, even a majority of Republicans, 56 percent, would be in favor of it, about double their level of support without such a limitation.

Fifty-six percent of those polled back a provision mandating that all Americans buy insurance, either through their employers or on their own or through Medicare or Medicaid. That number rises to 71 percent if the government were to provide subsidies for many lower-income Americans to help them buy coverage. With those qualifiers, a majority of Republicans say they support the mandate.

The poll also found that most Americans are opposed to one proposed way to pay for healthcare reform: an excise tax on so-called Cadillac health plans (Ezra Klein explains how this tax on insurance companies would work).

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