Over the last month, Democratic presidential candidates have shared their vision for single payer health insurance, including “Medicare for All”–a policy that threatens the end of private insurance. According to a new Morning Consult/Politico poll, these progressive proposals coincide with a 50 percent drop in voter support of “Medicare for All” from January to February.
Thanks to the popularity of the Medicare program, “Medicare for All” maintained a majority of support since November. But when 2019 started off with a handful of Democrats discussing plans to expand government healthcare programs, voter support quickly fell. The program had a net support of 27 percentage points in January, but dropped by 15 points in the Feb. 7-10 survey.
Shortly after launching her campaign for a 2020 presidential bid, Senator Kamala Harris called for replacing private insurance with single-payer healthcare.
“The idea is that everyone gets access to medical care, and you don’t have to go through the process of going through an insurance company, having them give you approval, going through the paperwork, all of the delay that may require,” Harris said in a town hall on Jan. 28.
The Democratic Party and their candidates are splitting over their adherence to a true definition of single-payer that eliminates private insurance completely, and a more incremental plan that slowly expands public coverage. Supporters of a textbook single-payer, like Harris, believe it’s necessary to completely overhaul the system financially to work. However, data shows this policy may be harder to sell to voters than Democrats anticipated.
Morning Consult reported that losing private insurance cuts support for “Medicare for All” in half.
In the latest survey, when “Medicare for all” supporters were subsequently asked whether they would still back a government health system that eliminated the private insurance market, about 1 in 2 respondents (49 percent) reaffirmed their position, but just over one-fifth — or 22 percent — withdrew their support outright. Another 29 percent said they no longer knew or had no opinion.
Other presidential hopefuls like Senators Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren have also called for single-payer healthcare, but not yet endorsed the shuttering of private insurance.