August 30, 2019 | Updates

THE WEEKLY SCAN: Key Stories In The Debate On America’s Health Care Future

Good Friday afternoon, and welcome to the Weekly Scan.  Here are some of the key stories you may have missed in the debate on America’s health care future:

This week, proponents of new government insurance systems rushed to point to new polling that appears to show Democrats’ apparent support for Medicare for all.  But former Democratic Governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm says not so fast.  Appearing on CNN this week, Granholm said:

… When you ask people whether they favor Medicare for all, you find out it’s kind of like a Rorschach test.  Nobody really knows what it means.  Fifty-eight percent of Democrats favor Medicare for all, but then you find out that also, only 22 percent of them want to do the full enchilada where you take away people’s private health care.

Polling has shown that most Americans oppose Medicare for all once they know what it is and that most Democratic voters favor strengthening the Affordable Care Act over pursuing Medicare for all.  This explains why many Democrats have recently been distancing themselves from the proposal.  In a recent story headlined, “Why 2020 Democrats are backing off Medicare-for-all, in four charts,” The Washington Post confirms that “[p]olls show why they’re doing this.  On the surface, the idea sounds as if it would appeal to voters.”  But when voters are made aware of the many negative consequences of such a system, including the elimination of private insurance and need for higher taxes, support drops.
Voter Vitals – a new quarterly tracking poll conducted nationwide and in 2020 battleground states – finds that “[a] significant majority of voters – including Democratic, swing, and Republican voters – are primed to reject [new government insurance systems like Medicare for All, the public option, and Medicare buy-in].”  Phillip Morris, Partner of Locust Street Group, who conducted the survey explains the findings of the new poll:

… Recent studies shows that new government health insurance systems would require Americans to pay more in taxes or private plan premiums, and we found that 64 percent of voters – and even a majority of Democratic voters – are unwilling to pay any more in taxes for universal coverage … So what do Americans want?  A supermajority (68 percent) would rather build on and improve our current health care system than replace it with something new – including 69 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of swing voters.

And, while some continue to promote the public option as a more “moderate” alternative to Medicare for all, some 2020 contenders acknowledge such an approach would lead to the same one-size-fits-all government-run system.  A flash poll conducted by Forbes Tate Partners on behalf of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF) reveals that voters prioritize improving our current health care system over offering a new government insurance system, often referred to as the “public option.”
Meanwhile, recent headlines have also warned of the threats to rural patients under the public option based on a new study from Navigant that finds that the public option could put more than 1,000 rural U.S. hospitals in 46 states “at high risk of closure.”  These hospitals serve more than 60 million Americans and as Kaiser Health News and NPR reporthospital closures can have “profound social, emotional and medical consequences.”

  • Las Vegas Review-Journal: “…[H]ospitals lose money on Medicare patients … But if more people were on Medicare, those losses could be unsustainable.  An industry group estimates that more than 50 percent of rural hospitals would face a high risk of closure if a public option were in place.”
  • Virginia Public Radio“…[A]s many as 10 rural hospitals in Virginia could close if the federal government starts offering a public option health plan – the kind of public option that’s now being talked about on the campaign trail by former Vice President Joe Biden and others.”


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