CONGRESS: Medicare Is Voters’ Top Priority
A new post-election survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health reveals that as voters head into the new year, they are very concerned about health care issues. When asked about issues that may confront the new Congress, over half of respondents said that Medicare, HMO reform and the problem of the uninsured should be "top priorities" for the new session. Polled voters did not agree, however, on the tactics that Congress should employ to solve these problems.
- Medicare: With respect to Medicare, only one proposal -- reducing government payments to health care providers -- was supported by a majority (59%) of both parties. Other proposals, such as requiring seniors to pay more out-of-pocket costs (81% against), raising the eligibility age (65% against) and increasing taxes (55% opposed) fell well short of majority support.
- Uninsured: Similarly, on the issue of the uninsured, none of the current proposals -- income tax rebates, business mandates or universal coverage -- earned majority support.
- Managed Care Reform: Respondents showed some agreement on the issue of managed care regulation. Overall, 78% of voters support patients' rights legislation. The figure remains above 50% when respondents were told such reforms would raise premiums by as much as $20 per month. Seventy-six percent of Republicans and 80% of Democrats support right-to-sue legislation, in particular.