Public option NOT the most popular item in health reform

I am a supporter of the public option.  But there is a meme going around that the public option is somehow the most popular element of health insurance reform, and that Democrats are stupid for not twisting enough arms to pass it by any means necessary.  In a scathing, fact-free piece accusing the President of gutting the public option because of the deals made with private industry, Huffington Post columnist Miles Mogulescu claims, "The most popular aspect of health care reform is the public option, which is supported by nearly 60% of voters."  Let's solve that issue once and for all, because we numerically can: The public option is NOT the most popular item in health reform.  Not by a long shot.

In fact, Mogulescu's "nearly 60%" number is correct.  Back in October, a Washington Post/ABC News poll put support for the public option at 57%.  I will use this number for comparison purposes.  So let's look at what is in the bill that is supported by a greater majority.  In an article for The Hill yesterday, Peter Fenn quoted recent Kaiser polls (here are actual findings from the poll):
76 percent support reforming the way health insurance works
72 percent support tax credits for small businesses
71 percent support creating a health insurance exchange/marketplace
70 percent support expanding high risk insurance pools
68 percent support providing financial help for low-/middle-income people

And when it comes to preventing insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions and putting a cap on lifetime benefits, the numbers are off the charts — 37 percent believe that it is Extremely Important to put this into law, 39 percent believe it is Very Important and 15 percent believe Somewhat Important. That is 91 percent!!!
All of these things - the banning of pre-existing conditions, insurance reforms, tax credits for small businesses, health insurance exchanges, high risk insurance pools and subsidies for low to middle income Americans - are more popular than the public option, and are already in the House and Senate bills, as well as in the President's proposal.  A month ago, Nate Silver noted a whole host of popular ideas already included in the House and Senate health care bills while their awareness lagged.

The public option is popular.  Well, at least a version that was never really considered in Congress is popular (this would be the version that lets everyone participate in the public plan).  But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  It is not - by far - "the most popular" idea in health insurance reform.  The zealotry for lashing out at the President (who, by the way is about to preside over the largest expansion of social safety net since Medicare) for not pursuing it in his proposal should not be leading authors on leading progressive publications to make false claims.

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Health reform in current form: right and popular

Public option still doesn't have the votes