Republicans have characterized the Democrats’ push to pass health care reform and their subsequent dismissal of GOP efforts to repeal the legislation as “arrogant,” pointing to opinion polls which show that Americans overwhelmingly oppose the new health care law and support its repeal. But if Republicans want to govern based on public opinion, they should be careful what they ask for.
A new national survey conducted between April 6th and 10th by researchers from Indiana University’s Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research (CHPPR) finds that while 58% of Americans support repealing the law a majority of those that favor repeal want Congress to pass more liberal legislation that includes a public option:
When asked how important they thought it was for Congress to work on “establishment of a public option that would give individuals a choice between government provided health insurance or private health insurance,” 67 percent of Americans rated this as an important topic to address. This finding is even more striking given the fact that 59 percent of those in favor of repealing the health care reform legislation rated the public option as important to pursue. Another surprise is that 67 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of Independents also agreed that the public option was an important topic to be addressed by Congress.
In some ways this isn’t very surprising. The public option remained the most popular element of health care reform throughout the 17 month debate. In fact, public opinion turned against the bill as it moved through the legislative process and became more conservative and both Republicans and Democrats continued to tell pollsters that they would like a choice between private and public coverage. Incidentally, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has promised to hold a vote on the public health care option as a stand alone measure and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) has introduced public option legislation which has attracted 80 co-sponsors in the House.