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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Strong Support for Single-Payer, Medicare-for-All Shaping Health Care Debate

Strong support for “single-payer” and Medicare-for-all now drives America’s health reform debate. As Jocelyn Kiley, associate director of research at Pew Research Center, writes:

A majority of Americans say it is the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage. And a growing share now supports a “single payer” approach to health insurance, according to a new national survey by Pew Research Center.

Currently, 60% say the federal government is responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans, while 39% say this is not the government’s responsibility. These views are unchanged from January, but the share saying health coverage is a government responsibility remains at its highest level in nearly a decade.

Among those who see a government responsibility to provide health coverage for all, more now say it should be provided through a single health insurance system run by the government, rather than through a mix of private companies and government programs. Overall, 33% of the public now favors such a “single payer” approach to health insurance, up 5 percentage points since January and 12 points since 2014..Just 5% of Americans say the government should not be involved at all in providing health insurance.

Kiley notes that “Democrats – especially liberal Democrats – are much more supportive of this approach than they were even at the start of this year…The share of Democrats supporting a single national program to provide health insurance has increased 9 percentage points since January and 19 points since 2014.” Also,

Nearly two-thirds of liberal Democrats (64%) now support a single-payer health insurance system, up 13 percentage points since January. Conservative and moderate Democrats remain about evenly divided: 38% prefer that health insurance continue to be provided by a mix of private insurance companies and government programs, while 42% favor a single-payer approach.

This is not the only poll which affirms that an overwhleming majority of Americans want government-run health care for all citizens. Increasing numbers of Americans are becomming aware of the benefits, savings and success of government-run health care in nearly all other developed countries, and they are raising questions about why we can’t have this and why we allow profiteers to define our national health care system to benefit their enrichment.

Family health security is the most important issue for most people, and that gives Democrats an edge. Despite the string of narrow electoral defeats they have recently expeerienced, it’s becomming clear to the public that Democrats, unlike their adversaries, are actually fighting for health security for all. Dems have had success in branding themselves as the party of health security and they should amplify this impression in the months leading up to November, 2018. If issues matter at all, Democratic candidates who master their messaging for a Medicare-for-All system are going to have an edge in 2018.

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