Why Democrats are Smart to Call Public Option "Medicare"

Are Democrats really about to re-brand the public option? According to The Hill (via Slatest), Democrats think the term "public option" is too confusing -- it certainly isn't specific -- and they'd like to replace it with something more like Medicare. Slate's Ron Rosenbaum said earlier this month that public option was the worst phrase ever, but his suggestions -- like government-run insurance program -- didn't quite tickle the pleasure centers. So I suggested my own ideas and frankly they were pretty bad, too.

But look! Commenter "mgoodfel" wrote under my article: "You could call it Medicare." Ding! What do we have for the winner?

Fame and glory I guess, although I'll bet mgoodfel, who's a steadfast opponent of the Democrats' health care reform, doesn't seek much glory from a move that could help Dems push through a bill with a public option ... or whatever its called. My response to his comment is here:

M, I know you probably don't mean to be terribly helpful to the pro-reform movement, but I think you're right about Medicare as a name. People like Medicare. Scratch that, they love it. So why not name an extension of government-sponsored care something similar. UniCare is taken by a big company. But CommonCare, Publicare, NationCare ... not horrible.

The name change is probably overdue. Back in June, National Journal's Mark Blumenthal noted that when the public option was linked to Medicare, it received a boost in popularity. In this CBS poll, a Medicare-type government plan received 72 percent support. Of course, polls have their own framing biases and as today's Gallup report helpfully reminds, "In U.S., 39% Say View on Healthcare "Depends" on Details." I should say so.