Patterico's Pontifications


Night of the Living Public Option

Filed under: General — Karl @ 9:50 am

[Posted by Karl]

ObamaCare got a boost in friendly weekend polling from Rasmussen and the Washington Post/ABC News (weekend polls usually favor Democrats), but the latter observes:

The public… divides about evenly — 51 percent in favor, 47 percent against — on the question of whether people should be required to have health insurance, a central element of the plans under consideration.

But it is the public option that has become the major point of contention, with support for the government creation of an insurance plan that would compete with private insurers stabilizing in the survey after dipping last month. Now, 55 percent say they like the idea, but the notion continues to attract intense objection: If that single provision were removed, opposition to the overall package drops by six percentage points, according to the poll.

Without the public option, 50 percent back the rest of the proposed changes; a still sizable 42 percent are opposed. Independents divide 45-45 on a package without the government-sponsored insurance option, while they are largely negative on the entire set of proposals (40 percent support and 52 percent oppose). Republican opposition also fades 20 points under this scenario.

The decision to back away from the provision might hurt Obama among his base, but not dramatically so, as 88 percent of liberal Democrats support the reform plan as is, 81 percent without the public option.

This is why even the New York Times has started breaking the bad news for a government-run insurance plan to its readership. Of course, people like Pres. Obama and Sen. Tom Harkin have to keep pumping hot air into their leaky balloon, even as the mushy middle from Maine (Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins) backs away from it. After all, that loss of lefty support not only made the poll numbers look terrible at the end of August, but also encompasses the nutroots demographic they need to keep energized on the healthcare issue and beyond.

Perhaps more important, re-animating the Left’s pet proposal is a continuation of the public option – individual mandate two-step. The numbers from the WaPo poll show how thin support for an individual mandate is (with more at the link just provided) — and the mandate is necessary to a government takeover of the US healthcare system. If the focus was on the mandate — which would likely increase waiting times and insurance costs (backed with hefty fines administered by the IRS) — it would not be surprising for the poll numbers to slide back to where they were in 2008, when a majority of Democratic primary voters were opposed to a mandate to buy health care.

The new development may be that the two-step in motion here is designed as a bait-and-switch job against the Left as well as the Right. The latest Obama strategy seems to be to lead the Left on with talk of the public option, and present them with a fait accompli of health insurance reform without a public plan.


20 Responses to “Night of the Living Public Option”

  1. The great and good Walter Williams often refers to “the law of unintended consequences”.

    This is when the government perceives a problem, and then sets out to “solve” the problem. However, instead of improving the situation, the government “solution” creates a whole new set of problems – many of which are worse than the original problem.

    In his columns, Williams has chronicled numerous real-world examples of “the law of unintended consequences”. This “law” is my biggest fear about “health care reform”.

    As bad as things may be now – and I don’t think they’re THAT bad – they can be made even worse with rash or poorly conceived laws. With so much at stake, I cannot comprehend why Obama and Congress can’t step back, take a deep breath, and start over.

    Bubba Maximus (456175)

  2. Good points as always, but if we actually had an effective opposition from the GOP we wouldn’t have to worry so much about this Trojan Horse canard. Other than Coburn in the Senate and Weber in the House, they look like a bunch of neutered horses.

    Dmac (a93b13)

  3. This (the controversy over mandatory insurance) brings to mind a conversation I had with a Brit this weekend, and a point he made over the difference between an American, and an Englishman:
    He said it was as simple as looking at their respective passports.
    An American passport identifies the holder as a “Citizen”;
    the British passport identifies the holder as a “Subject”!

    I think the Obama “regime” is attempting to erase that difference.

    AD - RtR/OS! (5c940e)

  4. I watched Dr hodean on the Sunday pressers and was asked about how MA’s Romneycare has fared, and his basic defense of their failure was Romney is a Republican. He also told us that we should be able to find $500,000,000,000 in savings in Medicare and the healthcare industry, so they will only raise taxes on the evil rich.

    JD (19728f)

  5. The rest of the world is now regarding Americans in the form of jokes the same way Blond jokes make the rounds.

    It’s kind of amusing observing you all jumping up and down, and protesting so you can spend more money than you have to on health care through the insurance companies, making sure that the health insurance CEOs keep getting their million dollars plus, and in some cases billion dollar plus, yeah that’s the freedom you are fighting for. Preferring health insurance companies denying care for dying grandparents, yeah, that’s freedom to protest about. Make sure that the overpriced insurance company operations are still raping us.

    The Freedom Works folks an operation funded and created out of the massive surpluses within the health insurance industry, actually made to look like a grassroots movement, even making signs imperfect to make it appear that way. Although there were other imperfect signs made by regular citizens with their imperfect perceptions in reality.

    The health insurance companies have over a million a day to put into the propaganda out there, in fact, last report was that they were spending 1.2 million a day. You all who keep protesting are doing so on behalf of the insurance companies, whether you know it or not. Also, at the detriment of American citizens who don’t make enough money to buy health insurance, and are dying. Laughable, cept’ it’s sad for the well being of Americans, and sad that there are that many genuine fools, that buy the BS pumped out by those like Glen Beck, the biggest ass on cable networks, which keep the rest of the world laughing at our stupidity, with their mouths hanging open in astonishment.

    blubonnet (ae1d2a)

  6. It’s kind of amusing observing you all jumping up and down

    It’s even more amusing to watch the Trolls come on here in panic and try to deflect the discussion from the actual topic at hand in the vain attempt at preventing criticism leveled at their Messiah. You just gave the game away, Trolly.

    Dmac (a93b13)

  7. “Plan 9 from Outer Space” was more of a plan than any rendered by the White House or the Congress for healthcare, and that movie was considered the worst sci-fi movie of all time, which leaving these various healthcare plans exactly where ?

    Neo (7830e6)

  8. Make sure that the overpriced insurance company operations are still raping us.

    This is the latest talking point, as we see here. The new plan may be to hand the insurance companies a poisoned chalice along with all those alleged new subscribers so they go broke. Then, Voila ! We have no alternative but the public option. Forcing them to accept all applicants with pre-existing conditions may well do it. I don’t know how many remember the early days of the AIDS epidemic when AIDS victims were taking out million dollar life insurance policies they could never pay for and fighting the insurance company’s request for results of AIDS testing.

    I really do think this may be the fallback position now.

    One of Obama’s position points was how Alabama had 90% in one company so they had no choice. As usual, his facts were wrong.

    Later in his speech, the president used Alabama to buttress his call for a government insurer to enhance competition in health insurance. He asserted that 90% of the Alabama health-insurance market is controlled by one insurer, and that high market concentration “makes it easier for insurance companies to treat their customers badly—by cherry-picking the healthiest individuals and trying to drop the sickest; by overcharging small businesses who have no leverage; and by jacking up rates.”

    In fact, the Birmingham News reported immediately following the speech that the state’s largest health insurer, the nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, has about a 75% market share. A representative of the company indicated that its “profit” averaged only 0.6% of premiums the past decade, and that its administrative expense ratio is 7% of premiums, the fourth lowest among 39 Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans nationwide.

    Similarly, a Dec. 31, 2007, report by the Alabama Department of Insurance indicates that the insurer’s ratio of medical-claim costs to premiums for the year was 92%, with an administrative expense ratio (including claims settlement expenses) of 7.5%. Its net income, including investment income, was equivalent to 2% of premiums in that year.

    In addition to these consumer friendly numbers, a survey in Consumer Reports this month reported that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama ranked second nationally in customer satisfaction among 41 preferred provider organization health plans. The insurer’s apparent efficiency may explain its dominance, as opposed to a lack of competition—especially since there are no obvious barriers to entry or expansion in Alabama faced by large national health insurers such as United Healthcare and Aetna.

    Once again, like with the trolls here, always check Obama’s facts.

    Mike K (addb13)

  9. I guess blu is trying to prove it is full-on bugf*cknutz on just about every topic.

    JD (5b403b)

  10. #5

    health insurance CEOs keep getting their million dollars plus, and in some cases billion dollar plus

    Who got a billion dollar plus salary?

    last report was that they were spending 1.2 million a day

    Where is this “report”?

    Gerald A (78e08a)

  11. Obama’s facts weren’t wrong he was lying. Barack Obama lies. He’s a lying dirty socialist who’s trying to ram his heath care takeover down our little country’s throat, and then we’ll be a dirty socialist country forever and ever. That’s what makes the lies worth it for Barack Obama. Cause of how pleased Mr. Soros will be.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  12. Project much, blubonnet?

    LarryD (feb78b)

  13. Blubonnet is just a good little foot soldier in Teh Won’s army.

    PatAZ (9d1bb3)

  14. blubonnet – Insurance companies were behind 9/11. Bet you did not know that. Google it!!!!!11ty!!!!

    daleyrocks (718861)

  15. Comment by daleyrocks — 9/14/2009 @ 4:07 pm

    Two words: Berkshire-Hathaway!

    AD - RtR/OS! (5c940e)

  16. “the rest of the world laughing at our stupidity”

    At least we weren’t stupid enough to come up with crap like fascism, Nazism, communism or Islam.

    Dave Surls (fb397f)

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  19. […] the mandate is a tax; the mandate is already unpopular, and — if fully debated — likely will fail to attract even Democrats. But people understand that ObamaCare means tax hikes — and they know Obama knows it. Blatant […]

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