Dueling polls gauge physician support for public option



A pair of polls released this week contradict each other on physician support for President Obama’s health care plan. One, released Wednesday by the conservative-leaning Investors Business Daily, claims that nearly half of all doctors would quit their jobs if a public option passes, but another, released Monday by the New England Journal of Medicine, found overwhelming support for a public option among physicians.

Investors Business Daily contacted 1,376 physicians via U.S. mail and found that 65 percent of those doctors opposed the public option, while 45 percent “would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement” if a public option passed.

In its article announcing the poll, IBD was largely critical of the public option. IBD courted controversy earlier this summer for an editorial criticizing Obama’s health reform plan and claiming world-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking “wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.” Hawking later wrote in to mention that he is, in fact, British and that the National Health Service saved his life.

Standing in stark contrast to the IBD poll is one published Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine, the oldest continuously published medical journal in the world. Authored by Salomeh Keyhani, M.D., M.P.H., and Alex Federman, M.D., M.P.H., it was conducted over roughly the same time period and surveyed a random sample of physicians nationwide.

Of 2,130 physicians who participated,, 63 percent said they favored Obama’s plan of a public insurance option competing with the private sector. Only 27 percent wanted to maintain the current system of private insurance options.

For their poll, which had twice the sample size as IBD’s, Keyhani and Federman released much of the survey’s internals. IBD has not.

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