By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
Americans are so keenly aware of alcohol and drug addiction problems that they are willing to pay a new sin tax or add $2 a month to their health insurance premiums to expand treatment, according to a new poll. "Majorities of all segments support a number of ways to pay for expanding treatment, including personally paying more for health insurance premiums," says a memo from Democratic pollster Celinda Lake's Lake Research Partners. "Driving their support is the belief that drug and alcohol addiction are serious problems, that addiction is a health condition that requires ongoing attention and support, and that treatment is an effective process," she adds.
Her poll was done for Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap, a program of the Open Society Institute, founded by liberal donor George Soros. According to the group, there are 23 million Americans addicted to drugs and alcohol, but only 1 in 10 gets treatment, in part because of the costs and the lack of insurance coverage. Lake's poll bluntly asked what Americans would do to fund the coverage, and the majority of people said they were willing to swallow the medicine. The key question was whether Americans would OK a $2 monthly health insurance premium, a tax of 25 cents on cigarettes, or a tax of 5 cents per drink of beer, wine, and liquor. Even Republicans supported paying up, she found. Some 80 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Republicans, and 63 percent of independents backed the $2 insurance premium hike. On the alcohol tax, 75 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of Republicans, and 67 percent of independents said yes. And 66 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of independents, and 59 percent of Republicans would approve a tobacco tax.
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