Obama speech boosts health care reform

President Obama's recent speech to Congress calling for an end to bickering, fear-mongering and insurance company lies, gave a powerful boost to health care reform with a new poll showing strong majority support for his package including a Medicare-style "public option" to provide coverage for all.

Americans United for Change (AUFC) released the poll showing that by a 62 percent to 28 percent margin voters support a health care public option funded by the federal government. Tom McMahon, AUFC Acting Executive Director said the poll of likely voters in the 2010 election who watched Obama's speech proves "the more people learn about the president's health insurance reform proposals the more they like it."\

The surge in Obama's support, "including the public option, should reassure members of Congress who support reform that they have the high political ground." It is a warning to those who oppose reform that they do so at their own "political peril," McMahon said.

Organizing for America, the grassroots movement based on the 14 million activists in Obama's election campaign announced a national "Day of Action" Sept. 22 titled "Big Insurance: Sick of it!" Protesters will stage rallies and mass picket lines in front of the headquarters and branch offices of health insurance companies across the nation to protest the lies and misinformation they have spread against health care reform. Cosponsors of the protests include MoveOn, AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFSCME, USAction, Health Care for America Now and others.

Another poll released Sept. 15 showed that medical doctors support the public option by an even wider margin than the general population. The poll, conducted by two physicians at Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that most doctors, 63 percent, favor giving patients a choice that includes both public and private insurance. An additional 10 percent favor single-payer, according to the poll. Together the two groups add up to 73 percent of medical doctors who favor a public option. "Whether they lived in southern regions of the United States or traditionally liberal parts of the countrty...the support for the public option was broad and widespread," said one of the pollsters, Dr. Salomeh Kehyani.

She said one reason for the strong support is doctors' positive experience with Medicare, the federally-funded single-payer system that serves more than 40 million senior citizens and disabled people. Alex Federman, the other physician who conducted the poll said they found very strong support for the public option among doctors who belong to the American Medical Association even though AMA officially opposes the plan. Federman said, "part of our reason for doing the research was really to get at the real voice of physicians as opposed to voice of one physician organization." Both Federman and Kehyani belong to a smaller doctor's group, the National Physicians Alliance.

 

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