Health Care in the 109th Congress: What Do the People Want? What Can Congress Deliver?

December 3, 2004

Health care didn’t prove to be a make-or-break issue in most races during the 2004 election. But post-election polls showed the public still thought our health care system had major problems, and a substantial number of people wanted action from Congress on health issues – especially costs, access and affordable drugs.

What health care legislation might be possible in 2005? In 2006? On what aims do Republicans and Democrats agree, and where do wide differences of opinion remain? Given President Bush’s agenda, what shape might legislation take on subjects such as tax credits for the uninsured, expanded coverage for children and malpractice reform? What should decision-makers do with the results of post-election opinion polls?

To help address these and related questions, the Alliance for Health Reform and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsored a December 3, 2004 briefing for reporters only. Panelists were: Dean Rosen, top aide on health matters to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist; Liz Fowler, leading Democratic health staff member for the Senate Finance Committee; Kellyanne Conway, president and CEO of The Polling Company and WomanTrend and a consultant to Republican candidates; and Michael Bloomfield, executive vice president of The Mellman Group, a polling and consulting firm, and an advisor to Democratic candidates. Stuart Schear of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation offered brief remarks, and the Alliance’s Ed Howard moderated.

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