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Doctors support a public plan. Do you?

Posted Sep 16 2009 10:12pm

In a New England Journal of Medicine poll released this week we learned that a strong majority of doctors (63 percent) support a public health insurance option. As found in a Reuters article, “When given a three-way choice among private plans that use tax credits or subsidies to help the poor buy private insurance; a new public health insurance plan such as Medicare; or a mix of the two; 63 percent of doctors supported a mix, 27 percent said they only wanted private options, and just 10 percent said they exclusively wanted public options.”

If we add together those who support a mix (63 percent), with those who wanted a single payer health system (10 percent) we find a major shift toward the public plan; doctors support a public option even more than the American public (which is typically 50-70 percent in favor of a public option). Also included in the poll results is the desire by more than half of the physicians (58 percent) to expand Medicare to those aged 55 and above, as Mike Stephens had previously suggested.

Another notable finding from the poll results is that this majority support for a public option is in contradiction to the American Medical Association’s (AMA) stance, of which 250,000 doctors are members.

In response, Dr. James Rohack, president of the AMA, points out that perhaps there may be differing views of what constitutes a public option. “Because when I say public option, or you say public option, it means different things to different people, kind of like the Rorschach ink blot test – when you look at it, to some people it means one thing, to other people it means the other thing.”

Are we all on the same page? What exactly would a public option look like?

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