Families USA, March 17, 2021
The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic have made health and health care reform front burner issues for all of us, no matter our political party, race, location, or background
No one in this country should have to worry that they can’t afford the health care they need or have to choose between filling a prescription and paying rent or a mortgage. Families across America agree—and they want to see action.
That’s according to new polling from Families USA and Hart Research Associates. The nationwide, online poll of more than 1,600 voters (fielded January 27 to February 1, 2021) underscores how COVID-19 has made health and health care reform a priority issue for people in America, regardless of political affiliation, race, location, or background. A strong majority of voters—Republican, Democrat, or Independent—want to see real health care solutions this year, particularly around health care costs and prescription drug prices.
As the Biden administration and Congress consider new policies to best serve their constituents, the poll indicates that voters in America are looking for:
- Meaningful results on health care this year. When asked what they want President Biden and Congress to focus on this year, voters indicated that health care is a top-of-mind priority, along with COVID-19 and the economy. Three in four voters say health care should be a high priority for President Biden and Congress this year, including a strong majority of Democrats (91%), independents (75%), and Republicans (58%). These findings hold true across racial, geographic, and gender differences.
- Strong action to address excessive health care costs, particularly for prescription drugs and insurance premiums. More than eight in ten voters believe that the health care system today works more for the benefit of the insurance and drug industries than the average person—and this sentiment holds true across demographic groups and partisan lines. Roughly nine in ten voters say that it is important for Congress and the president to take action to lower prescription drug prices and health care costs this year.
- Real solutions that solve health care problems rather than just making tweaks around the edges. Voters are concerned that Congress will not go far enough to make necessary changes to the health care system. In fact, this concern is much greater than any fear that Congress will go too far. Voters are particularly worried about lack of action in addressing the cost of prescription drugs; 67% are concerned that Congress will not go far enough to bring down prices. Majorities of Democrats, independents, and Republicans hold this opinion.
This year, we have a unique opportunity to finally give people peace of mind as we tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and address concerns that so many share. Now is the moment to deliver what people in America want most: lower health care prices and a healthy and secure future.
By Don McCanne, M.D.
The history of Families USA and Physicians for a National Health Program dates back to the Clinton administration effort to expand health care to everyone. When Bill Clinton was offered the choice of a market of private health plans or a single payer national health program, he chose the former – the plan of Families USA. Anyone around then certainly remembers that failure.
Later, “President Barack Obama credited Families USA with playing an instrumental role in promoting the enactment of the ACA and for the organization’s work helping to implement and protect the historic health legislation.” (Wikipedia)
But after a decade of ACA, we still have serious deficiencies in our health care financing system: tens of millions uninsured, tens of millions underinsured with excessive out-of-pocket cost sharing, narrow provider networks that limit choices in health care, high prices, diversion of health care dollars to passive investors, inequity in access to health care, and profoundly excessive administrative services which have made us the most expensive system on earth, in spite of all its deficiencies.
What do people want? The recent polling from Families USA and Hart Research Associates shows that people want affordable health care and affordable prescription drugs, and they want action now. Three-fourths of voters say that health reform should be a high priority this year: 91% of Democrats, 75% of independents, and 58% of Republicans. Support holds across racial, geographic, and gender differences.
Over 80% of voters across various demographic groups and political preferences believe that the health care system today works more for the benefit of the insurance and drug industries than the average person. Voters are concerned that Congress will not go far enough to make changes to the heath care system, outweighing their concern that Congress might go too far.
Families USA has had a quarter of a century to prove that the private insurance market should be the primary source of health care financing in the United States. Based on the wishes of American voters, that model has woefully failed. Even their own poll indicates that people want the system fixed now, and not by the private insurance industry.
A quarter of a century ago, President Clinton said that the single payer model was the better plan but that he was going to go with Ron Pollack’s Families USA private insurance market plan. That was clearly a mistake. President Obama’s tweaks were somewhat beneficial but again fell far short because he left the private insurers in place in the financing infrastructure. President Biden and Congress now have the chance to rectify those errors by enacting and implementing a single payer system of Medicare for All. But we cannot allow the wishes of America to be hidden in a poll. We need to raise our voices in a deafening roar that will be heard throughout the nation, and especially in the White House.
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