As much as Washington has an overwhelming fetish for so-called bipartisan health care reform, it is not a feeling shared by the majority of the American people. A new Research 2000 poll (sponsored by DailyKos) asked Americans if they would prefer:
Getting a health care bill with the choice of a strong public health insurance option to compete with private insurance plans that’s supported only by Democrats in Congress, OR Getting a health care bill with no public option that has the support of Democrats and a handful of Republicans?
A majority, 52%, would prefer a Democratic only bill with a public option, while only 39% would prefer a bipartisan bill without a public option. This is especially interesting because the poll also asked people if they favor or oppose creating “a government-administered health insurance option.” 59% favored a public option, and only 34% opposed.
We can assume that only a very small minority of Americans (roughly 7%) favor a public option but would prefer congressional Democrats sacrifice the idea if it could result in a bill getting some Republican votes. Supporters of the public option, by greater than a 7 to 1 margin, prefer results (a bill with a strong public option) to a bill that passes with "bipartisan" votes.
Democrats do not need any Republican votes to pass a health care bill with a public option. The Democratic caucus has 60 (the number needed to end a filibuster), and the ability to pass a bill with a simple majority using reconciliation. Only opposition from congressional Democrats could prevent the bill from including a public option. If the public option is dropped to gain the support of Republicans senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, it would be in direct opposition to the wishes of the majority of American people.