Last month, Pacific Research Institute launched the “Single-Payer Poll Watch” to keep an eye on the latest public opinion around single-payer healthcare. Much like RealClearPolitics, the poll watch compiles questions from national polls on single-payer health care and calculates the average of the four most recent polls by date.
In our initial December poll watch update, national polls on health care showed opposition to single-payer healthcare increased throughout 2019.
And the January 2020 update underscores last month’s findings. Mainly, support for single-payer health care is stagnant and opposition to the proposal is increasing. Three new polls taken in November and December 2019 raised the average favorability slightly, but it’s fallen from a high point of 58 to 60 percent in the beginning of 2019 to an average of 46 percent.
Opposition for single-payer health care is over 47 percent, based on the four most recent poll averages.
Sally Pipes, PRI’s President and CEO, clarified that trend in her end of year Forbes column, pointing out that Senator Elizabeth Warren is backing away from a hardline on single-payer healthcare and Medicare for all. Recent news stories confirm this change and call Senator Warren’s switch to support a public option a recalibration.
But don’t take our word for it. Democratic presidential candidates are running the other way on single-payer health care questions. Senator and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar called out Sanders and others who support single-payer health care saying in the January 2020 debate, saying, “This debate isn’t real.” The Minnesota senator emphasized the lack of support from Congress and governors. When Steyer was asked about health care, he pivoted to term limits.
Single-payer health care was the star of the 2019 debates. Now, candidates are running toward the warm embrace of a public option and calling single-payer ideas unrealistic as health care discussion fades from the primetime.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is the only candidate to remain consistent on Medicare for all, despite the enormous costs and questionable health care provided by national single-payer systems like Canada and the United Kingdom. Sanders got pushback for his comments about American health care costs in the January 2020 debate. CNN and NBC called his statement exaggerations.
If January’s single-payer poll watch update is any measure, Senator Sanders is doubling down on an increasingly unpopular and misunderstood health care proposal that’s lost its appeal to the public.
2019 showed the public is turning away from the single-payer idea. Let’s wait and see what 2020 has in store.
Evan Harris is the media relations and outreach coordinator at PRI.