WASHINGTON – As some candidates and elected officials continue to push for a one-size-fits-all government-run health care system, Noam Levey of the Los Angeles Times examines “a critical and explosive political question: Are Democrats willing to upend health coverage for tens of millions of their fellow Americans?”
Plans pushed by three of the four leading candidates – Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California – differ in their particulars but would all end the job-based system that provides coverage to more than 150 million people. That’s a hugely risky strategy, as more-centrist rivals reminded the three senators during the two nights of heated, sometimes confusing, debates. Sweeping healthcare plans have never fared well in American politics. For decades, voters repeatedly have punished presidents and Congresses – Democratic and Republican alike – who have threatened to take away existing health plans, no matter how flawed … A survey earlier this year by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation found that support for a single government plan fell from 56% to 37% when respondents were told that it might involve eliminating private insurance companies or requiring more taxes … The 2010 healthcare law was almost sunk by labor unions angry about a new tax on the kind of generous health plans many of their members enjoy. And even though the law was designed to have minimal impact on the existing insurance system, President Obama faced a firestorm when a few million people found their health plans canceled after new rules took effect requiring plans to offer more-comprehensive benefits … Overall, close to three-quarters of U.S. workers with job-based coverage said they feel grateful, the Times/Kaiser Family Foundation poll found.
A new national poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that support for Medicare for all is on the decline, as “a larger share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents would prefer lawmakers build on the existing ACA” and “the share of Democrats who now say they ‘strongly favor’ a national Medicare-for-all plan is down” 12 percentage points in the three months since Kaiser last asked the question. And as candidates promote plans that would eliminate Americans’ existing health coverage, the poll notably finds that 86 percent of adults with employer-provided coverage rate their coverage as “good” or “excellent.”
And The Associated Press reports that “[g]overnment surveys show that about 90% of the population has coverage, largely preserving gains from President Barack Obama’s years. Independent experts estimate that more than one-half of the roughly 30 million uninsured people in the country are eligible for health insurance through existing programs.”