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Presidential Candidates' Platforms Reflect Differences In Perspectives Of Voters On Health Care Issues

Armen Hareyan's picture

A newlypublished article in the New England Journal of Medicine findsthat the contrasting health care platforms of the leading Democratic andRepublican presidential candidates reflect underlying differences in the viewsof their primary voters, the AP/SeattlePost-Intelligencer reports.

The article is based in part on a new telephone survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, including responses from 674likely Democratic voters and 508 likely Republican voters in 35 states -- and Washington, D.C.-- with January or February presidential primaries or caucuses (Reuters,1/24). The survey, conducted in November 2007, had a margin of error of plus orminus four percentage points for Democratic voters and plus or minus fivepercentage points for Republican voters (Freking, AP/SeattlePost-Intelligencer, 1/24).

Survey Results

According to the survey,65% of Democratic voters say they would like presidential candidates to proposeplans that would expand health insurance to all residents, regardless ofwhether such plans would increase government spending. Among Republican voters,23% would like to hear about proposals that would expand health insurance toall residents, compared with 42% who prefer more limited proposals and 27% whowould like to see no changes to the current system, the survey found.

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In addition, Democratic voters are divided between a focus on expandinginsurance coverage and controlling costs, while cost issues dominate amongRepublican voters, the Kaiser/Harvard survey found (Emery, Reuters,1/24).

According to the article -- based on the new survey and an analysis of 10 otherrecent surveys -- the health care proposals from the presidential candidatesreflect the views of Democratic and Republican voters. The analysis concludedthat the "prospects for actual health care reform are tempered by twofactors: the wide difference in the two parties' view of what health carereform should look like and the current level of satisfaction that majoritiesof both parties have with their own health care situations" (AP/SeattlePost-Intelligencer, 1/24).


Robert Blendon, a professorof health care and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Healthand an author of the article, said, "There are huge differences betweenRepublicans and Democrats on what should be done to improve health care" (Reuters,1/24).

Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman, also an author of thearticle, said, "In the primaries, we're seeing the presidential candidatesadopt health plans that, to some extent, mirror the concerns of their party'score voters -- with leading Democrats aiming for universal coverage by buildingon the employer-based system and Republicans offering tax-based incentives toencourage more people to buy coverage on their own." He added,"Finding a way to bridge these differences will be important to winningindependents in the general election and to fashioning a legislative compromisein the new Congress in 2009" (Kaiser Family Foundation/ Harvard School ofPublic Health release, 1/23).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.