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Swing-State Voters Want Health System Reform

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NU Online News Service, April 13, 2004, 6:16 p.m. EDT – Many residents of swing states believe the government and private insurers both have roles to play in reforming the U.S. health finance system.[@@]

Executives at America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, are drawing that conclusion from survey results they commissioned from Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies L.L.C., Alexandria, Va.

Most political strategy experts believe that many states are very likely to back President Bush or very likely to back his Democratic challenger.

McInturff’s researchers interviewed 800 registered voters in 17 “swing states” in early April. Experts believe that the swing-state voters will be up for grabs in November.

The researchers found that 43% of the survey participants believe that the U.S. health care system “should be reformed” and that 41% believe that the system “should be radically changed.” Only 13% said the system should be kept the same.

More than 60% of the participants said the private sector is better suited to delivering care when it is needed, assessing new technology, distributing resources efficiently and using screenings to prevent illnesses before they occur, McInturff said today at a press conference held to release the survey results.

But more than 54% of the participants said government is better at keeping health care affordable, and 59% said government is better suited to ensuring that more Americans have access to quality care.

On the campaign trail, Republicans tend to emphasize private-sector solutions, and Democrats tend to emphasize government solutions, but many voters in the swing states “see a role for both,” McInturff said. “The parties are more ideologically pure than the electorate.”

Survey participants said they had heard enough about prescription drug coverage for seniors but too little about topics such as reducing medical errors and reforming the medical malpractice liability system.

Other survey results indicated that participants were open to hearing about ideas for “step by step” change, in addition to ideas about reforming the entire health care system all at once.

Only 30% of the participants said the United States ought to adopt a single, government-run health care program.

McInturff and AHIP President Karen Ignagni said they believe the survey results support the idea that voters in the swing states are interested in hearing about medical malpractice reform.

AHIP reports that it will be setting up a “voter empowerment program” that will feature paid advertising, direct mail and “grassroots” operations to “help voters sort rhetoric from reality during the 2004 election.”