September 24, 2019

More voters favor health care proposals to allow everyone to enroll in Medicare than proposals to replace private insurance with a "Medicare-for-All" plan, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

Where do the 2020 Democratic hopefuls stand on health care?

About the poll

The Journal/NBC News poll from Sept. 13-16 surveyed 900 registered voters, including 506 who said they planned to vote in a Democratic caucus or primary. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points for all registered voters and 4.4 percentage points for those who would vote in a Democratic caucus and primary.

Findings

The poll found 67% of voters support ideas touted by former Vice President Joe Biden and some other Democratic presidential candidates to give everyone the option of enrolling in a Medicare-like plan. In comparison, fewer voters—56%—said they supported proposals, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) plan, which seek to completely replace the private health insurance with Medicare.

Those trends also held among Democratic primary voters, the Journal reports. Seventy-eight percent of Democratic primary voters supported allowing people under age 65 to buy into Medicare, while 63% supported replacing private insurance with a government plan.

In addition, only about a third of registered voters said they supported providing government health care to undocumented workers—a proposal every Democratic candidate backed during the June primary debate.

The Journal/NBC News poll findings echoes those from the Kaiser Family Foundation's Health Tracking Poll. That poll, which surveyed 1,205 U.S. residents between Sept. 3 and Sept.8, found that 69% of respondents support a government-administered health plan similar to Medicare that would be available to everyone and compete with private health insurance plans, while 53% support replacing private health insurance with a Medicare-for-All plan.

Experts say the findings suggest the Democratic Party may have more success in the polls taking a less aggressive approach to health insurance reform.

Jeff Horwitt, a Democratic pollster who conducted the Journal/NBC News survey with Republican Bill McInturff, said, "There is a way forward for a more moderate, mainstream approach on a number of these issues." He added, "Voters aren't looking to go too far left or too far right" (McCormick, Wall Street Journal, 9/22; Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll, September 2019; Kaiser Family Foundation methodology, accessed 9/23).

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