PUBLIC HEALTH: Californians Surveyed On Priorities
According to a recent poll commissioned by the California Center for Health Improvement and funded by the California Wellness Foundation, the percentage of state residents who said selected public health services are "a 'top priority' ranged from 29% (for collecting community health data) to 84% (for ensuring safe drinking water)." According to the poll, published in this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 77% of respondents report that "ensuring that foods are free from contamination" is a "top priority," and 33% said that the state provides this service very effectively; 75% said "protecting the public from exposure to toxic chemicals and other hazardous materials" is a top priority, and 29% said the state is very effective at providing the services; 74% said "protecting the public from the spread of communicable disease" is a top priority, and 22% said the state provides the services very effectively. In addition, 65% said "helping treat disease and injury after natural disasters" is a top priority and 30% said the state provides the services very effectively; 53% said "providing community education and counseling services about improving health" is a top priority, and 18% said the state is very effective at providing these services; and 49% said "minimizing the spread of disease carried by insects or animals" is a top priority, while 37% said the state provides these services very effectively.
Who Should Pay?
The results of the poll indicate that the public prefers "that funds for public health services be raised at the state level instead of at the local level." The majority of respondents, 78% and 81% respectively, favored increases in state taxes on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. In addition, a majority of respondents, 68% and 53% respectively, favored increasing state income taxes for residents earning more than $200,000 annually and increasing local taxes on business property. However, the majority of respondents were opposed to state surtaxes on health insurance premiums (72% opposed), local residential property taxes (64% opposed) and local sales taxes (57% opposed). The telephone poll of 4803 state residents was conducted from September 30 to November 5, 1996, by the Field Institute of San Francisco in consultation with Louis Harris and Associates. The poll has margin of error of plus or minus 2% (2/6 issue).