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Health provisions among public's top priorities for economic stimulus
Date:1/15/2009

The public ranks action on health care highly as part of efforts to stem the impact of the economic recession and also views reforming health care as one of the top priorities for President-elect Obama and Congress, according to a new national survey conducted by researchers from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Americans rank helping the newly unemployed afford health insurance coverage second (picked by 33% as a top priority) behind helping businesses keep or create jobs (45%). Providing states with more federal help to pay for health care of lower income residents ranks third (picked by 31%). These proposed health provisions of the stimulus package ranked ahead of repairing the country's infrastructure, cutting taxes for the middle class, helping people pay their mortgages (each picked by 27%), and helping large businesses hurt by the recession (13%).

While improving the economy is overwhelmingly Americans' top priority for the new president and Congress - cited by nearly three-quarters (73%) of the public - over four in ten (43%) Americans view reforming health care as a top concern, ranking it third just behind fighting terrorism (48%) and above reducing the federal budget deficit (39%), improving public schools (37%), working to create more clean energy sources (36%) and dealing with Iraq (35%). A solid majority of Americans (61%) believe that given the serious economic problems facing the country, "it is more important than ever to take on health reform now."

As Congress begins work on the reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), half (51%) of the public favors increasing spending on SCHIP, while four in ten (39%) would maintain current program funding.

"The economic crisis has created an unprecedented window of opportunity for health reform. But we are in the early happy talk stage on health reform, and the window could close if policymakers can
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Contact: Todd Datz
tdatz@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-3952
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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