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Survey: Americans In Favor of ‘Public Option’

December 4, 2009

According to a recent survey conducted by Thomson Reuters Corp, many Americans say they would like to see a “public option” included in the health insurance reform but remain pessimistic that Congress will be able to lower healthcare costs or improve the quality of medical services.

Of the roughly 3,000 participants in the survey, slightly less than 60 percent said that they would be in favor of seeing a government-sponsored insurance option included in the hotly debated healthcare reform bill currently working its way through the Senate.

Nevertheless, many also expressed intense skepticism over the possibility that any legislation would be able to bring down healthcare costs””one of the key arguments in favor of the bill repeated by its Democratic advocates.

Facing staunch opposition by Republicans and scattered dissent amongst the Democratic ranks, the recently resurrected “public option” is something of a long-shot say many political analysts.

Some of the more significant results of the Reuters PULSE Healthcare Survey, conducted between November 9-17, include the following:

-The “public option” was supported by 59.9 percent and opposed by 40.1 percent.

-Support for the “public option” was divided largely along partisan lines, with 86 percent of Democrats, 57 percent of Independents, and 33 percent of Republicans saying that they were in favor of it.

-52 percent of those surveyed said they strongly disagreed that the amount of money spent on healthcare will be lower in 12 months, while only 13 percent strongly agreed.

-Regarding the quality of healthcare services in the US, 35 percent strongly disagreed that it will improve in the next 12 months, while 11.6 percent strongly agreed and 29.9 percent neither agreed nor disagreed.

-Less than a quarter of those surveyed said that they thought it would be easier for people to get healthcare a year from now.

Last month the House of Representatives passed a version of the healthcare reform bill on a historically narrow margin.  The Senate recently voted to open debate of the bill and will vote Thursday on several aspects of the proposed legislation, including potential cuts in funding to Medicare. 

If the Senate manages to pass the bill, it will then have to be consolidated with the House version, after which each chamber will then have to vote again on the final version before they can put on the President’s desk for his signature.

Two of the main goals of Senate Democrats is to design a bill that will expand coverage to some 30 million uninsured people and require that insurance companies cover patients with pre-existing medical conditions.

The bill would also mandate that everyone purchase insurance under penalty of fine and potential jail time, while also providing federal subsidies to help the poor pay for their coverage.

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