Diary

Pennsylvanians on Health Care

Over the past several months I’ve been keeping track of the Health Care debate, primarily because as a political blogger it’s expected of me, but also because I’ve been generally disappointed in most of what I am seeing. Buzz words like “public option” and “single-payer” have been bandied about, but rarely with any real explanations for voters. And then I ended up with a generally innocuous looking mailer from the Office of Congressman Tim Murphy offering the results of a poll he did with his constituents. Normally these mailings end up in the garbage in our house with little or no attention paid to them – I suspect that is true of many households in our area. The information in it is too important to ignore.

While just about any polling organization out there is willing and able to provide interested citizens with numbers touting the currently proposed plans – including those offering a public option – it seems that no one is willing to do anything but quote them. Here in Pennsylvania, we have one who did bother to question results, and decided to do his own survey. Murphy bothered to ask the important questions without the use of buzz words. What’s surprising about the results is the fact that it seems that at least his constituents aren’t walking in lock step with the majority that other polls are finding in favor of the public option.

The all-important question from Murphy’s survey is: “Do you favor a healthcare system that is run by the private sector or the government?” Pennsylvanians from the 18th Congressional District answered in direct opposition with the current polls with 61.6% favoring the Private Sector and only 6.5% in favor of Government-Run. To be fair, Reuters just released numbers stating that 59.9% believe in a public option, and 40.1% don’t nationwide. Murphy’s question doesn’t mention the public option, but it does get to the heart of the matter. Further, 61.7% of Murphy’s constituents polled do not think that the government should “create and manage a public health insurance plan that would compete for business alongside private insurance plans” and only 25.2% think the government should.

Here Murphy is being extraordinarily generous toward his colleagues who are touting a public option, since none of the plans offered honestly would cause real competition. Unless I missed something along the way, all of the current plans for a public option would not be open to all citizens. The public option would be for citizens who are currently uninsured (2.7% of the respondents to Murphy’s survey.) The question that doesn’t seem to be asked or answered by anyone doing polls is “Do you think that a public option that would be open to a small percentage of the population would encourage competition in the insurance industry?”

Moving on to a few other hot button issues in the debate, when asked whether or not every American should be required to have health insurance, the majority of Murphy’s respondents were not in favor of this requirement (58.4% no, 28.5% yes.) It seems residents of our region are also in favor of tearing down restrictions against selling health insurance across state lines by a little over 70%. Most importantly, apparently Pennsylvanians are wary about where their tax dollars are going, since 70.8% think “a private-sector healthcare system can be improved to provide coverage to more Americans at a lower cost than a nationalized plan.” They’re also unwilling to take any of the 11 different tax increases Murphy offered to pay for this plan, with responses varying from 71% to 95% against them.

Congressman Murphy has done a great service for his constituents by providing this survey and its results. It is unlikely that very many of his colleagues would do the same for their constituents, in spite of the fact that is precisely what we need. The one lesson to be learned is that beyond the politicking and buzz words, it is possible to find the truth. All it takes is the time to ask the questions in context, without the jargon.

Note: Congressman Murphy’s full survey results are available here.