PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Health Care Key Issue for Latino Voters
Latinos residing in California place a greater importance on health care issues in the upcoming election than any other ethnic group of California voters, according to a Field Institute poll released yesterday by the California HealthCare Foundation as part of the HealthVote 2000 project. Part of a larger research effort, the survey of 1,033 California Latino adults found that 85% rated providing children access to health care, regardless of their ability to pay, as their top priority, compared to 70% of all California voters. Granting children access to preventive health services was listed as a top priority among 84% of Latinos, compared to 66% of all voters; making affordable health plans accessible to all received top priority among 78% of Latinos, compared to 64% of all voters. The survey found that 39% of Latinos in California were uninsured and 30% of Latinos with children reported that one or more of their children lacked insurance. An additional 16% who are currently insured said that they had gone without insurance at some point over the last two years, while 29% indicated that someone they were financially responsible for had lacked insurance during the past two years. Cost was cited as a main deterrent for seeking care by 31% of Latino respondents, compared to only 9% who cited immigration status as a barrier. Over the last year, 41% of Latinos reported having some difficulty in receiving necessary medical care. In order to remedy some of the current health care problems, 67% of Latinos favored tying Medicare benefits to a recipient's ability to pay and 63% favored using more of the federal budget for Medicare costs, even at the expense of cutbacks in other programs. Mark Smith, president and CEO of the California HealthCare Foundation, said, "It should not surprise us that Latinos are more concerned about health care issues than the overall population. No part of California's diverse population is more affected by the growing problem of the uninsured than Latinos, with an uninsured rate of nearly 40% and climbing" (California HealthCare Foundation release, 2/18). Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Institute, said, "Given the results of this survey, it is difficult to imagine a candidate for public office ignoring health care as an issue in the 2000 elections -- they do so at their own peril" (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 2/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.