On health care, the public believes Democrats are too focused on abortion, lowering drug costs, and expanding government coverage, and Republicans have no message or at most an inconsistent one, opinion research by the Council for Affordable Health Coverage (CAHC) found.
The CAHC revealed the poll results at its fifth annual summit in Washington, D.C. on January 31. The public opinion research has been an important feature at the summit, says CAHC President Joel White.
“We rejected the idea of drafting policies in Washington [and] then trying to sell them to voters,” said White. “Our goal was to identify peoples’ concerns and offer ‘kitchen table’ solutions that made sense to middle-of-the-road voters.”
Among the poll findings: 30 percent of businesses with 50 or fewer employees offer health care coverage, and most people have coverage (91 percent) and like it a lot (82 percent). Seven in 10 voters think the current health care debate is off-track. Respondents said Congress should concentrate on finding ways to reduce premiums and out-of-pocket costs without new spending and expansion of entitlements.
‘Expand Competitive Markets’
The summit brought together policy leaders, reform advocates, and decision-makers to discuss the health care challenges facing the country, says White.
“We uncovered several solutions,” said White. “First, we should expand, not limit coverage options. Second, there should be opposition to the public option and single-payer model. We need to support a revised small-business tax credit to support employers offering coverage to workers.”
Driving down prices and improving access should also be top priorities, says White.
“We need to support policies to expand competitive markets, limit anticompetition rules, and expand the supply of the clinical workforce, telehealth, and site of service,” said White. “We need to spend less, allow more choice, and make transparency work.”
Beyond Obamacare, Price Controls
One of the most revealing results of the polls has been how far off-track Congress has been in addressing voters’ concerns about health care.
“We uncovered a host of issues that are ignored in the current debate over Obamacare and price controls, a debate that seven in 10 voters say does not address their real concerns,” said White. “People are ready for a new health discussion, and Congress has the opportunity to shape it.”
The polls also show the public thinks Congress is spending too much time addressing Obamacare.
“It isn’t where the vast majority of voters are,” said White. “While Obamacare certainly needs reform, it covers just 5 percent of Americans—less than 14 million people—and should not be the centerpiece of health policy.”
Poor Bang for the Buck
The United States spends about 20 percent of its Gross Domestic Product on health care (France is second, at 12 percent), and much of it is wasted, says White.
“The former top Medicare official in the Obama administration and other academics estimate that up to 30 percent of all care delivered is ineffective, wasteful, low-value, or harmful to the patient,” said White. “In Medicare, this totals almost $300 billion dollars.
“Congress should end payments for wasteful care that does nothing to improve patient outcomes, by first identifying the waste and then refusing to pay,” said White. “Incentives to identify and lower hospital-acquired conditions and infections should be realigned with payments to encourage better outcomes,” said White.
Two keynote speakers at the summit represented widely divergent views on health care. Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK), supports free-market reforms. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2021.
Jayapal was a “no-show” at the last minute, according to summit organizers, but provided a short video. White says Hern and Jayapal were “light years apart” in their presentations.
“Hern recognized the value of the private sector to respond quickly to changing and evolving needs of the workforce and individual needs of patients and the need for innovation to drive down costs,” said White. “He pointed to how some government-run systems, most notably in the U.K., are struggling to stay afloat and provide access to care.”
“Jayapal wants one system, determined by federal decision-makers, that seemed more pie in the sky than realistic,” said White.
AnneMarie Schieber (email@example.com) is the managing editor of Health Care News. Heartland Institute staffer Aaron Stover contributed to this article.
Polling Data, council for Affordable Health Coverage, April 2022: click here.