Polling indicates that nearly half of U.S. voters would support the concept of a single-payer health care system, although it remains unclear if they would throw their weight behind a proposal that included tax increases. The data also signaled that the idea of single-payer health care has grown in popularity among Democrats in the past five months.
On Sept. 20, a Politico/Morning Consult survey found that 49 percent registered voters supported the concept of "a single-payer health care system, where all Americans would get their health insurance from one government plan."
Meanwhile, 35 percent of respondents were opposed to single-payer and 17 percent were undecided. The survey did not describe how a single-payer proposal would be paid for, meaning that voters' support or opposition could change if a proposal specified a funding mechanism, Politico reports.
On Sept. 13, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced a "Medicare for All" bill that would implement a single-payer health care system nationwide. The legislation was co-signed by 16 Senate Democrats but has no chance of passing in the GOP-controlled Congress, NPR reports.
Sanders' bill did not commit to a particular funding mechanism but proposed a potential 7.5-percent payroll tax on employers and a 4-percent individual income tax, coupled with raising taxes on higher-income brackets and corporations.
The survey found that support for single-payer had sharply increased among Democrats; 67 percent of Democratic voters supported the health care system while only 18 percent were opposed.
"The surge of support for single-payer health care among Democrats is striking," said chief research officer Kyle Dropp of Morning Consult. "In April, 54 percent of Democrats supported the notion. Just five months later and that support has risen to 67 percent."
The majority of Republicans were against single-payer, as 33 percent of Republican voters said they supported the concept while 52 percent said they were opposed.
During the 2016 Democratic primary, single-payer became a bone of contention between Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. While Sanders ran for president on the promise of single-payer, Clinton asserted on the campaign trail that the proposal was unrealistic and that she supported a public option, or a government-run health plan that would help stimulate competition in the insurance markets, according to ThinkProgress.
The Politico/Morning Consult survey found that single-payer had overtaken a public option in popularity, as 44 percent of voters supported a public option, 33 percent opposed it, and 22 percent were undecided. Republican voters were only marginally more open to a public option than they were to a single-payer system.