Stories

Medicare for All's popularity may have peaked

Adapted from Kaiser Family Foundation; Chart: Axios Visuals

Public support for Medicare for All might have peaked, but it’s still a powerful idea among many Democrats.

By the numbers: Support for the national health plan rose from around 40% in 2000 to a high of 59% in March of 2018, but had slipped back to 51% by October of this year.

That's still a majority, but it’s narrow and headed in the wrong direction. And polling shows that support drops much further, and opposition rises, when people hear some of the most common arguments against Medicare for All.

Between the lines: Critics, debate moderators and the media have focused largely on two unpopular tradeoffs in a Medicare for All plan: the large number of Americans who would have to give up their private coverage; and the likelihood of a middle class tax hike to finance the plan.

  • · Sen. Elizabeth Warren took great pains to avoid one of those criticisms in crafting her financing plan, which does not include a tax hike for the middle class, but certainly includes other potential landmines.
  • Much less attention has been given to potential upsides, such as eliminating out-of-pocket costs, achieving universal coverage, or reducing the complexity of the health care system.

A public option, Medicare buy-in and other more incremental, voluntary and less expensive plans that are more difficult to make look threatening are more popular than Medicare for All.

Yes but: Support for Medicare for All is still strong among Democrats at 71%, so it remains an effective rallying cry for progressive Democrats in the primary.