Poll shows majority of physicians in favor of ‘public option’ in health care

By Calvin Palmer

Most doctors in the United States approve of President Barack Obama’s “public option” to supplement private health care insurance, according to a poll published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Of the physicians who participated in the survey, 62.9 percent said they favored a public option, or government insurance plan, against 27.3 percent backing a private system alone.

The doctors backing a private system must all live in northeast Florida if the Letters Page and opinion columns of The Florida Times-Union are to be believed. On an almost daily basis some physician puts pen to paper to air statistics, which are never substantiated, to show how Obama’s “socialist” reforms will destroy the finest health care system in the world.

These testaments to the status quo also trot out the usual mantra of big government and comparisons between the government-run United States Postal Service and how it compares unfavorably and inefficiently to the privately-owned FedEx.

The Florida Times-Union will be perplexed to the point of a catatonic trance, no change there then, to learn that another 9.6 percent of the physicians in the survey favored a completely government-owned health care coverage system.

“It’s clear that the majority of U.S. physicians support both public and private options to expand coverage,” NEJM said, noting that between 52 and 69 percent of Americans favor a supplemental public option.

The journal described physicians as “critical stakeholders” in health care reform.

The poll also found that 58.3 percent of physicians favor expanding Medicare, the public health insurance plan for seniors over 65 years old, to people aged 55 and over. This option is among a set of proposals being considered by the Senate Finance Committee.

In the traditionally more conservative South, 58.9 percent of U.S. physicians favored a public option, compared to 69.7 percent in the generally more progressive Northeast.

The journal surveyed 2,130 general physicians, specialists and surgeons who work in a private practice or with hospital groups.

A Washington Post-ABC News opinion poll shows 46 percent of Americans in favor of the proposed changes and 48 percent opposed.

The Florida Times-Union will no doubt take comfort that its right-wing Republican propaganda, and misinformation, is having some success.

Given the parlous financial state of Morris Publishing Group, publisher of The Florida Times-Union, the right-wing members of its editorial board may wish to tone down the virtues of the free market because it could prove to be their nemesis and leave them without a job and without health care insurance; exactly the kind of people Obama’s reforms are designed to help.

Wouldn’t that be just one of the best examples of Schadenfreude in recent times?

[Based on a report by AFP.]

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4 responses to “Poll shows majority of physicians in favor of ‘public option’ in health care

  1. AndyP

    Well imagine that, experts in the field backing some public health care provision. But who needs to listen to them, Republican laymen know best eh? The charges of President Obama being a socialist, being unpatriotic, and even guilty of treason are just the inane whining of the sour loser, unhappy that democracy has not delivered the desired result. If I’m not mistaken there was an election back in November, where Obama polled a record number of votes, 69,456,897 and beat McCain by just short of a 10 million majority, the largest by a long way since Reagan and Mondale in 1984. The electoral college results were pretty convincing too. In fact a bit of a thrashing. I believe that a major part of that ticket was health reform. Ergo I would suggest that despite the Goebbels style propaganda by Republicans, the majority of Americans believed something needed to be done about the health care system and gave Obama the mandate to act.

    As for the Florida Times Union newspaper, it has burrowed even further into my bad books this week. Not only did they fail to publish my letter defending the British NHS, but their wretched website seems to be having difficulty with user registration, so I can’t even post my views online! Now I could give them the benefit of the doubt and think the letter was too long for publication, however the cynic in me thinks it was ignored as it did not conform to the usual right-wing bile that forms its opinion pages. There would be some poetic justice if the conservative monetary ideals the paper endorses did lead to its demise. I for one certainly wouldn’t miss it, except maybe for comedy value. But it’s not that funny when people genuinely believe some of the drivel that pass for stories.

  2. AndyP

    Well I have to take it back! 😉 The Florida Times Union have just rang to say the letter is being considered for publication, it is shortlisted and there’s a 90% it will be used! They thought it a good letter. I need a lie down.

  3. Glen P

    How about some publicly available “scorecards” for doctors … and give them “performance pay” like these neocons are so anxious to impose upon unionized teachers? I want something to keep the lying, selfish MDs honest or at least competent if I’m going to pay out the nose for their services. If the neocons are going to push this tort reform through (and Obama is apparently caving in) we need something to keep these doctors honest. Calvin, you know as well as I do, we in the U.S. have a butt-load of incompetent doctors practicing out there. (Keyword: Practicing). Also, why not have a pay cap on MDs? I get tired of hearing about how they paid their dues in medical school and residency and now are entitled to screw us to death on fees. MDs are the most overrated profession in the world.

    • calvininjax

      It makes me smile how the ultra conservatives are so quick to point the finger at lawyers and think tort reform will suddenly make health care so much better and cheaper in the United States.

      The United States justice system is just as flawed as its health care system. It often makes me wonder whether the judges are as beyond reproach here as they are in the UK. I fear they are not. Anyone who is elected to office always owes someone, somewhere, a favor or two.

      Some physicians are appalling bad, yet the medical boards of the various states are loathed to disbar physicians from practicising even in the most egregious cases of negligence. It seems to be the medical boards operate on the principle of “There but for the grace of God go I”. There are physicians out there who are literally licensed to kill.

      It also strikes me that some physicians in the United States are only in it for the money. Why do all those Third World physicians somehow gravitate to the United States? Is it because they can do more healing in the United States, alleviate more suffering, give their services free to those people without insurance? Or is it because they can make a hell of a lot of money working in the United States?

      You might think that. I couldn’t possibly comment. 😉

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