NU Online Service, October 29–Washington
Health care and prescription drugs will be major issues in the next Congress, but less important than the overall economy and national security, says a survey of association executives and lobbyists.
In a survey commissioned by the Health Insurance Association of America, Washington, 28% of so-called “Washington insiders” identify “health care and prescription drugs” as a priority item of the President and Congress.
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This item ranks significantly above “taxes and spending,” which comes in at 13%, and “education,” which was cited by 12%.
However, it falls far below “the economy and jobs,” which comes in at 74%, and “terrorism and national security,” which is cited by 58%.
Still, nearly 75% of those surveyed cite rising health care costs as an “important” concern for voters in the Nov. 5 election.
“The beginning of the 2004 presidential election jockeying, combined with double-digit increases in health care spending and the resulting increase in the number of uninsured Americans, will thrust health care issues into the public spotlight in the months ahead,” HIAA President Donald Young said at a press briefing.
The survey was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, Alexandria, Va. Bill McInturff, a partner with the firm, said that several specific health care issues are seen as likely to receive legislative attention.
These include adding a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, expanding children’s health insurance programs, passing a tax incentive for long term care insurance, passing a patient’s bill of rights that does not include the right to sue health plans, mental health parity and capping medical malpractice awards.