For nearly a decade the Republican Party has campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare. Now they are trying to capitalize on a big opportunity with Trump in the White House and majorities in the house and senate. The bill that passed through the House represents a massive tax cut at the expense of healthcare for poor and elderly Americans who received care thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Now the bill is working its way through the senate and talk of tax credits, mandates, and medicare/medicaid has consumed the country. Yet many Americans are looking for something far from the current American healthcare debate.
A record number of Americans support a single payer system, as evidenced by both popular opinion and efforts for healthcare reform on the state level.
According to data recently collected by the Pew Research Center as many as 60% of Americans believe “the federal government is responsible for providing health care.” The data is more finely divided when partisan divides are looked at, with as many as 64% of liberal Democrats supporting a single payer system and only 8% of conservative leaning Republican voters feel the same way. Among all Democrats 52% of them support single payer with only 42% of conservative/moderate Democrats supporting the policy. The vast majority of Democrats as a whole support medicare and medicaid, something given the national healthcare debate, some might find surprising.
Roughly 64% of conservative leaning Republicans still support Medicare and Medicaid which definitely leaves the door open for expansion. The number is even higher among moderate and liberal Republicans, even more so among all stripes of Democrats. This high level of bipartisan support for some form of government run healthcare is also popping up on the state level all around the country.
Take Nevada for example, a swing state with a Republican governor, recently passed a bill that would provide Medicaid for all. While the governor eventually ended up vetoing the bill, there was a few weeks of suspense and the fact that the final decision was even in question says something about shifting American attitudes about the healthcare industry. A Republican governor thought of passing Medicare for all, meanwhile a Republican Senator from Nevada is helping to throw a wrench in the Senate health care plan because it kicks too many people off medicare.
Republican Dean Heller has been a vocal opponent of the Senate healthcare bill which drew some attention and negative ads from a Trump associated super PAC. Yet given the obvious public support for government healthcare in Nevada and the data surrounding even Republican support for government run programs like Medicare and Medicaid, it seems obvious that someone in Heller’s position would oppose the Senate healthcare bill. Even if it was purely for political reasons.
Nevada is a swing state and the actions of some of its highest elected officials are a good reflection of the healthcare debate as a whole. The Republican governor labored over a decision to enact medicaid for all and one of their senators is opposed to his own party’s health care reforms due to potential cuts to medicare and medicaid. Which seems right in line where the average Republican voter is according to the pew research data. In fact the American healthcare debate on the state level seems to be playing out exactly how one might expect given the data.
In California single payer is making significant headway, especially among the rank and file Democratic Party voters, but less so among the politicians who would be held politically responsible for any such programs heavy financial burdens. The single payer bill recently passed the state senate, but was shelved in the state assembly despite a Democratic super majority. California governor Jerry Brown, a staunch liberal, was also skeptical of the bill before it was shelved, largely because the large cost of such a move. The debate in California has played out exactly how the numbers suggest a healthcare debate between moderate and liberal Democrats might go.
Pitting single payers against a contingent of more moderate Democrats who have long supported expanding coverage under existing programs such as Medicare, medicaid, and plans offered through the framework created by the ACA. This debate is similar to the one had between the Bernie Sanders campaign and Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the 2016 Democratic Primary. Which is vastly different than the healthcare debate surrounding the Republican healthcare bill as it stands today.
The Republican Party has proved to be totally out of sync with voters in both parties as far as what they actually in terms of healthcare reforms. That’s the point though, they’re policies aren’t designed to benefit the majority of constituents, let alone reflect the actual views of those voters. Instead they have decided to dress tax cuts up as healthcare reform and claim a victory while they dismantle healthcare infrastructure millions of Americans depend on. The fact that Americans actually like that infrastructure just makes it all worse.
The healthcare debate in the United States is very far from public opinion. Even further from public opinion is the Republican healthcare bill and if that bill becomes law the Republican Party will experience a backlash of epic proportion for so steadfastly ignoring public opinion, but hey, at least they’ll get their tax cuts past.