A new Gallup survey seems to suggest that majority of Americans now back government-run health care.
That, at least, is what Gallup’s headline about its poll says: “Majority in U.S. Support Idea of Fed-Funded Healthcare System.”
The mainstream press eagerly ran with the story. The Washington Post, for example, headlined its piece: “Poll: Most Americans want to replace ObamaCare with single-payer — including many Republicans.”
The ABC News headline blared “Poll Says Majority of Americans Prefer ‘Medicare For All’ Health Care,” and the story led by saying that “A growing number of Americans now support the idea of federally funded health care.”
Look more carefully at the poll itself, however, and you see that it doesn’t show that at all.
Gallup asked three questions relating to ObamaCare that were meant to gauge the public’s support for repealing the law.
What it found was that 51% now say ObamaCare should be repealed, whether or not it’s replaced with anything, while just 48% favor keeping it in place.
The poll also asked about “replacing the ACA with a federally funded health care program providing insurance for all Americans.”
That question elicited 58% support.
What this response means is anyone’s guess. Even Gallup admits it can’t say for sure, particularly since the Republican response to this question is highly questionable.
According to the survey results, 41% of Republicans favor replacing ObamaCare with a single-payer system. Gallup’s Frank Newport says the finding could simply reflect that Republicans “view any proposal to replace the ACA as better than keeping in place.”
Without that unreasonably high GOP number, the support for “Medicare for all” basically vanishes. (Interestingly, Gallup didn’t bother to include a question in the poll asking about replacing ObamaCare with free-market reforms.)
In any case, other far-more-straightforward polls show widespread public opposition to government-run health care.
Gallup itself has for several years asked whether the public supports a “government-run health care system” or one “based mostly on private health insurance.”
The majority has consistently backed the current private system: 55% did so in 2015, which is almost exactly where it stood in 2011.
Meanwhile, an AP poll taken earlier this year found that only 39% say they back “replacing the current private health insurance system with a single-payer, Medicare-like plan.”
Even that meager support dropped when the details of such a plan were made clear. Just 28% said they supported the idea if it meant “your own taxes would increase” or if it meant giving up employer coverage. Just 18% supported single-payer if it meant “longer wait times for nonemergency medical services.”
Well, guess what, that’s exactly what Sanders’ “Medicare for all” — or any other single-payer plan for that matter — would produce. By definition, they would force everyone off their private insurance plans and onto the government-run program. Everyone would see their taxes climb.
Among other things, Sanders raises income taxes on all taxpayers. The liberal Urban Institute found that the tax hike needed to pay for Sanders’ plan would be $32 trillion over the next decade, or more than twice what Sanders claims.
The public is even less likely to back single-payer when they learn that Sanders’ own home state of Vermont canceled plans to adopt a single-payer system, once the governor realized that the costs involved would wreck the state’s economy.
Meanwhile, anyone who has looked at Canada or Britain — or at the Veterans Health Administration here at home — knows that government-run health care invariably produces chronic delays in treatments, even for emergency procedures.
So, no, the public doesn’t support “Medicare for all” or anything like it.
What the new Gallup poll does show is something the mainstream press — and even Gallup itself — missed. Which is that, six years after it became law, most Americans want ObamaCare repealed, including a quarter of Democrats.
In a presidential election year during which one candidate has promised to repeal ObamaCare on Day One, this finding is, well, yuuuge.