Tag Archives: public option

Perceptions affecting support of public option

In the health reform debate, the public option has emerged as the latest controversy and possible stumbling block. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that “the vast majority of those who support the entire reform package also back it without the public option, while removing it attracts some of those who would otherwise be opposed.”

A recent poll of more than 5,000 doctors found that nearly 63 percent of them support a public option. Primary care providers were the most likely to support a public option; physicians in fields that generally have less regular direct contact with patients were less likely to support a public option, though 57.4 percent did so.

The Washington Post points out that, among consumers, support for the public option varies widely based on what its perceived effect will be.

Mother Jones‘ Washington, D.C., bureau chief David Corn, on Hardball with Chris Matthews on Monday night, said that many people still don’t know the details of how a public option fits into health care reform. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times, also on Hardball, argues that people who have insurance “don’t focus on the public option because they think it’s not about them.”


Do reporters fully understand the public option? Are they effectively explaining it to their audiences?

To learn more about the public option, watch this Talking Health web cast, featuring two experts who explain the public option and potential effects of a public option. The second half of the web cast features Los Angeles Times reporter Noam Levey and New York Times reporter Reed Abelson, who provide insights and suggestions for covering this aspect of health care reform.

It may be helpful to look at what’s happening in San Francisco, where a program for the uninsured offers care in clinics and covers admissions to hospitals located in the city. While it isn’t health insurance, it does include a mandate that employers “offer health coverage to employees, contribute to workers’ health savings accounts or pitch in on Healthy San Francisco.”

Primer on reform draws from AHCJ presentation

Sarasota Health News reporter and editor David Gulliver released his own evaluation of health care reform, drawing on the Dartmouth Atlas and the speech Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt delivered in “brilliant – and, believe it or not, hysterically funny – style at the Association for Health Care Journalists national conference in April.”

Uwe Reinhardt

Uwe Reinhardt

After sketching a clear and convincing portrait of a failing system, Gulliver takes his assessment even further, venturing authoritative predictions on what a final health care reform package will look like. Gulliver goes into some detail, with the general idea being that the final product will include a universal insurance mandate, a public option that would only go into effect if that mandate’s goals were not met and increased regulation of the insurance industry. Gulliver’s straightforward, un-muddled approach makes the piece both accessible to a broad audience and interesting even to those who read and write about health for a living.

Find a copy of Reinhardt’s Health Journalism 2009 presentation here.

Reporting on the public option a topic of webcast

In a White House briefing on Tuesday, spokesman Robert Gibbs reiterated that that President Obama still prefers the public health insurance option in health care reform, despite increasing talk about alternatives.

talking_health_insuranceIn the most recent Talking Health webcast, AHCJ president Trudy Lieberman discussed the public plan option with Cathy Schoen, senior vice president for research and evaluation at The Commonwealth Fund, and Bruce M. Bullen, chief operating officer of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

They offered their judgments on what we can expect. Two journalists who have covered the topic extensively, Los Angeles Times reporter Noam Levey and New York Times reporter Reed Abelson, provided their insights and suggestions for covering what will be a major story in the coming months.

Man-on-the-street interviews, recorded in April, revealed that few people really understood what a public plan is and how it might differ from a private plan.