If politics and good governance are all about snapshot polls than by all means be discouraged that health care reform has apparently notched down a couple points. On the other hand if you think good governance is about leaving a positive legacy – FACTBOX-US healthcare bill would provide immediate benefits – and about the common good than just say to hell with poll snapshots. Here’s why. Doing the right thing is not always popular. That popularity also takes a beating when you have a constant barrage of misinformation about big changes like health care reform. While I tend to think health care reform ( The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) involved relative modest improvements to accessibility and the protection against the worse excesses of the predatory health insurance industry, PPAC was the single biggest health care reform package since Medicare. The history of Medicare provides the single biggest reason that no Democrat or one of those few remaining moderate Republicans should regret supporting the PPAC. Health Care Reform Circa 1965: Polling on Medicare
A July 1962 Gallup poll found mixed feelings about President John F. Kennedy’s proposal, 28 percent said they held generally favorable views of his plan, 24 percent were generally unfavorable, and a sizable plurality (33 percent) said they didn’t have an opinion on it or hadn’t heard about the plan.
[ ]…Following Pres. Lyndon Johnson’s election, Americans remained somewhat divided on the plan, with 46 percent telling Harris pollsters in Feb. 1965 that they’d prefer “a Federal law which would provide medical care for the aged by a special tax, like Social Security” and 36 percent more inclined to support “a plan of expanded private health insurance.” Then, as now, Democrats were more apt to favor the government option (58 percent) than were Republicans (27 percent).
Asked another way, 62 percent said they favored “President Johnson’s program of medical care for the aged under Social Security.” A smaller majority, 56 percent, backed the American Medical Association’s alternative plan, which would have “everyone who could afford it covered by private health insurance” and “those who couldn’t afford it …covered under a government health plan.”
Medicare has had its ups and downs but continues to be a very popular program.
Those comparisons show the depth of Medicare’s popularity. According to a national CAHPS survey conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2007, 56 percent of enrollees in traditional fee-for-service Medicare give their “health plan” a rating of 9 or 10 on a 0-10 scale. Similarly, 60 percent of seniors enrolled in Medicare Managed Care rated their plans a 9 or 10. But according to the CAHPS surveys compiled by HHS, only 40 percent of Americans enrolled in private health insurance gave their plans a 9 or 10 rating.
More importantly, the higher scores for Medicare are based on perceptions of better access to care. More than two thirds (70 percent) of traditional Medicare enrollees say they “always” get access to needed care (appointments with specialists or other necessary tests and treatment), compared with 63 percent in Medicare managed care plans and only 51 percent of those with private insurance.
For today’s right-wing conservatives the only things which seem to matter are greed, power and the belief in some radical ideology that is the antithesis of an enlightened democracy. That blind herd mentality might win them a few seats in Congress, but history is not on their side. Despite all the BS about repealing health care reform, killing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Unemployment Insurance – those programs have remained popular with the public. It is not the popularity of these programs alone that matters. They are essential to any modern industrialized nation. If Conservatives are truly for the continuation of a free market based economy – they seemed to love the corrosive crony capitalism of the Bush and Reagan years – than they should be pro social safety net. Modern free markets with a capable labor force are not possible without the stabilizing effects of the safety net to counter balance the unpredictability of free markets. If modern right-wing conservatism’s aim is a permanent crony capitalism, a kind of cruel and unstable modern plantation nation, in which there is little real upward mobility than they are on the right path.