HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Majority of Doctors Support National Health Insurance

Daily Kos' Dr. Steve B. and ThinkProgress report on a new survey of over 2000 doctors showing that 59% of them "support legislation to establish a national health insurance program.   This number is higher than surveys taken five years ago.  Ezra Klein says that we should be somewhat suspicious of this number.   Here is why:

Sadly, the normal caveats about health care polling all apply. We don't establish health plans in principle, we establish them with specifics. And that tends to be where you lose a lot of stakeholders, as the specifics often threaten to deprive them of revenue. Moreover, this is a very vague question. Steve thinks it's an endorsement of single payer, but it's rather unclear what's actually being agreed to here. Single payer? Socialized medicine? Private insurance paid for by the government? Who knows?

That said, doctors regularly come into contact with Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA -- if those systems were really as bad as some like to pretend, you'd have something less than six-in-ten clamoring for broader government involvement. In the past, the American Medical Association has been a powerful opponent of reform. More recently, they've basically been silent. But if doctors were to actually organize in favor of change, it would be tremendously powerful. Constituencies who want to see reform need to be as aggressive as those who wish to block it.

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