New poll numbers from NBC/Wall Street Journal produce two major and potentially conflicting story lines when it comes to the Obama administration's efforts for a health care overhaul. On the one hand, the American public overwhelmingly favors a choice between getting insurance coverage either through the private market or a government run option. Indeed, 76 percent of respondents said it was either "extremely" or "quite" important to "give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance."
With the public option being such a lightning rod in the current health care debate, progressive activists are already emailing around these numbers as evidence that voters are way ahead of the politicians. Certainly, the findings provide a boost of sorts to President Obama, who has stood by the public plan even as Republican opposition has crystallized.
That said, the president still has his work cut out for him. In the same NBC/WSJ poll, only 33 percent of respondents said they thought the president's health care plan, to the extent they knew of it, was a "good idea;" 32 percent said it was a bad idea.
In short: the administration has yet to complete the sale. An additional 30 percent of the public had no opinion of Obama's proposal for reform. But when read a description of the general outline -- requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, an employer mandate, tax credits for lower income families to buy coverage, and tax increases on wealthier Americans to pay for it - the number of respondents in support rose to 55 percent.
The GOP's New Health-Care Alternative. Join the Line
House Republicans on Wednesday introduced their official alternative health-care-reform plan. Well, kind of. It's not the official alternative, but it has the support of the leadership. And sure, some leaders may support other alternative bills out there, but this one also has the support of the top Republicans on the relevant committees. Oh, wait — some of them may also support other bills. But in any case, all this should remind you that the GOP does really stand for something.
Let's leave aside for the moment that this plan was a four-page exercise in public relations that left out how many of the 47 million uninsured Americans would be covered, how it would be paid for or even how much it would cost. The plan — and the four others introduced by Republicans in the House and five more in the Senate — is indicative of how the GOP is handling Democratic efforts to pass universal health care: death by a thousand paper cuts. "There'll be lots of Republican plans. I think that many of our members will want to be part of this plan," Representative Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican in charge of the House Republican Health Care Solutions Group, said upon leaving Wednesday's press conference. "And there will be Republicans who sponsor this plan and who sponsor other plans that have slightly different ideas than this plan. On health care, we are truly the party that brings the ideas to the table that are much more innovative than the government taking over the health-care system."
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