Yesterday's Washington Post (12/16/09) reports that the public isn't sold on healthcare reform. As the headline puts it:
Public Cooling to Healthcare Reform as Debate Drags On, Poll Finds
The story by Dan Balz and Jon Cohen explains that "there is minimal public enthusiasm for the kind of comprehensive changes in healthcare now under consideration." Now, how "comprehensive" the reforms under consideration are is certainly debatable, but these conclusions seem to be drawn from questions about costs and Barack Obama's handling of the issue.
But the Post did ask other, more interesting questions–and then buried the results. Deep into the article we learn that "more than six in 10 favor expanding Medicare to people ages 55 to 64 who lack insurance–a proposal included in one Senate compromise effort that appears unlikely to survive final negotiations." In the next graph, readers are told:
On the issue of whether and how to expand coverage to those who do not have it, 36 percent favor a government plan to compete with private insurers, 30 percent prefer private plans coordinated by the government and 30 percent want the system to remain intact.
As with the so-called Medicare "buy-in," this finding of strong support for a public option suggests that the public is much more supportive of fundamental health care changes than the Congress or White House. In other words, the public isn't really "cooling" to health care reform; they want more than the politicians are likely to deliver.