NU Online News Service, July 7, 2004, 5:15 p.m. EDT

Voters in a key swing state are hostile toward the current U.S. medical malpractice suit system.[@@]

America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, bases that conclusion on a survey of 300 registered Ohio voters conducted in March and April by Public Opinion Strategies, Alexandria, Va.

AHIP has made a point of arguing that the government should find ways to help patients resolve complaints about the health care system without going to court, and it contends that the majority of Ohio voters who participated in the survey feel the same way. Many political strategists argue that the views of swing-state voters will have a big effect on the results of the upcoming presidential election.

The researchers found that 75% of the participants say the rules governing malpractice suits are too loose and ought to be tightened up and that 88% say the current system benefits personal injury lawyers more than it benefits patients.

When asked whether they prefer to make it easier for patients to take health plans to court or to give patients access to a physician-run independent appeals process, 75% of the survey participants favored access to an independent appeals system, AHIP says.

When researchers asked participants to rate the importance of several health care system reform issues, 24% named “controlling cost” as the most important issue and 20% named “covering in the uninsured” as the most important issue.

AHIP explored the issue of “universal health care” by asking whether Ohio voters would prefer to see a single, government-run health care program or a program that combines public programs for the poor with private coverage for other people. Only 28% of the voters preferred a “single-payer” system.