As presidential candidates of both major parties woo the American public, particularly in early caucus and primary states, they are gravitating toward a common public concern: the U.S. health care system. Potential voters are well aware of rising premiums and higher out of pocket costs to families, the impact of high health care costs on America’s economic competitiveness and on federal and state budgets, and the ever-growing number of uninsured – now nearly 45 million. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released in March shows that health care ranks as the second most important issue that the public would like discussed by presidential candidates for the 2008 election.
Among health care issues that Americans would most like to hear presidential candidates discuss, expanding health insurance coverage for the uninsured tops the list and holding down costs follows closely behind, according to a recent CBS News/ New York Times poll. One-half of respondents, across party lines, said they are willing to pay as much as $500 more in taxes for a federal guarantee of universal coverage. Two-thirds of Americans think the government should guarantee health insurance for all, but only one-third trust the government to do a better job of providing actual coverage than private insurance companies.
What do polls nationally and in early caucus/primary states say about health care as a campaign issue? How does health care fit into larger campaign themes? What are the likely differences in Republican and Democratic approaches to this issue? What coalitions have been forming to influence change in the health care system? Are state coverage initiatives providing models to inform campaign strategies?
To help address these and related questions, the Alliance for Health Reform and the Kaiser Family Foundation sponsored a July 10 luncheon briefing. Panelists included: Democratic strategist and polling expert Mark Mellman, president and CEO of The Mellman Group; Republican pollster and public policy researcher Gary Ferguson, senior vice-president of American Viewpoint; and health policy and public opinion expert Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. The Alliance’s Ed Howard was the moderator.
Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Ferguson Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Altman Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)