In the face of "cruel" attempts by the Republican Party to strip health insurance from more than 30 million Americans with the goal of providing massive tax breaks to the wealthy, a new poll published on Thursday finds that a growing majority of the public is "shifting toward the political left" on healthcare and expressing support for a system that ensures coverage for all.
"The Democratic party needs to stop fumbling around incompetently for a positive vision and instead unify behind the one already supported by the overwhelming majority of its voters."
—Matt BruenigThe poll, conducted by the Associated Press in partnership with the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, shows that 62 percent of public believes it is "the federal government's responsibility to make sure that all Americans have health care coverage."
As AP's Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Laurie Kellman note, this is a dramatic shift in popular attitudes over a very short period of time.
"As recently as March," they observe, "the AP-NORC poll had found Americans more ambivalent about the federal government's role, with a slim 52 percent majority saying health coverage is a federal responsibility, and 47 percent saying it is not."
This most recent poll also found:
- Only 22 percent of Democrats want to keep Obamacare as it is, and 64 favor changes to the law.
- 80 percent of Democrats believe it is the federal government's responsibility to ensure coverage for all.
- 80 percent of Americans believe Republicans should work with Democrats to improve Obamacare.
- 13 percent of Americans support the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare without a replacement, a proposal the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates would leave 32 million more Americans uninsured.
These latest survey results are consistent with increasingly vocal grassroots support for a Medicare-for-All style system that "leaves no one out." Prominent Democrats have joined the groundswell of enthusiasm; former Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are two of the more notable figures who have openly advocated a move toward single-payer in recent weeks.
"There is a significant increase in people who support universal coverage," Robert Blendon of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health told AP. "The impact of the debate over dropping coverage looks like it has moved [more] people to feel that the government is responsible for making sure that people have coverage."
This soaring support for Medicare for All at the grassroots has been bolstered by recent analyses showing that a single-payer system would be more affordable than the current for-profit system—a fact that refutes President Donald Trump's baseless claim on Wednesday that single-payer would "bankrupt our country."
All of these factors, argues welfare policy analyst Matt Bruenig in a recent piece for Buzzfeed, amount to an irrefutable case in favor of moving beyond Obamacare to a healthcare system that ensures universal coverage.
"Now that the Republicans have failed [in their attempts to repeal Obamacare], the time is ripe for a serious single-payer push," Bruenig writes. "Policy institutions need to work hard to hammer out the details of a single-payer plan, and the Democratic party needs to stop fumbling around incompetently for a positive vision and instead unify behind the one already supported by the overwhelming majority of its voters."