Researchers from Indiana University’s Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research (CHPPR) have found that the “repeal” question may be less about actual policy goals than originally thought.
Since the passage of the health care reform legislation by Congress this past March 2010, there has been a loud outcry to repeal the legislation and to use this sentiment as a rallying cry for the 2010 midterm elections. A survey conducted April 6 – 10 by CHPPR researchers has found that indeed a majority of Americans are in favor of repealing the legislation (58%). At first glance this finding may seem to tell a very clear story, but results from other portions of the survey demonstrate that the “repeal” question may be less about actual policy goals than originally thought and instead may be more about party identification or support. Repeal is favored by 96 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of Independents, but only 10% of Democrats.
Many have assumed that those advocating for repeal wanted Congress to take no further action on health care reform. However, this survey found that 48 percent of Americans actually would like for Congress to continue working on health care system reforms as opposed to focusing on other topics. In fact, the survey found that 63 percent of those individuals who supported repealing the legislation also were in favor of Congress continuing to work on health care system reforms.
When asked how important they thought it was for Congress to work on “establishment of a public option that would give individuals a choice between government provided health insurance or private health insurance,” 67 percent of Americans rated this as an important topic to address. This finding is even more striking given the fact that 59 percent of those in favor of repealing the health care reform legislation rated the public option as important to pursue. Another surprise is that 67 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of Independents also agreed that the public option was an important topic to be addressed by Congress.
Priorities for the Current Legislative Session
Besides gauging public support for the repeal of the health care legislation, another goal of the survey was to determine how the American public would like to see Congress focus their time in the upcoming legislative session. The American public was asked to rate on a scale of 0 (Not at all important) to 5 (extremely important) how important they felt it was for Congress to address the following issues:
· Addressing climate change
· Reducing the federal deficit
· Reforming regulation of the financial system
· Immigration reform
· Medical malpractice system reforms
· Pharmaceutical industry reforms
The survey demonstrated overwhelming support, regardless of political affiliation, for Congress addressing the reduction of the federal deficit as well as for reforming regulation of the financial system. Falling lowest on the list of issues was addressing climate change with only 32 percent of Americans finding this to be an issue that was important to address.
It may be that the repeal question is more of a surrogate for whether people support the platform of the Republican party, rather than it being indicative of how they want Congress to devote its time. Further work is needed to see if this is true or not. To that end, CHPPR will be conducting a follow-up to this survey to attempt to answer this question.
Survey Methodology and Full Report
Market Strategies International conducted the survey on behalf of CHPPR and the CBE during the period between April 6 and April 10, 2010. A total of 600 adults, ages 18 and older, living in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia responded to this survey. The margin of sampling error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
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