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Poll analysis: Americans have conflicting views about spending on public health system
Date:11/9/2010

c health system as a whole is working very well: 56% rate its performance as fair or poor, while 42% rate it as excellent or good. Just slightly more than half (52%) have a positive view of their state health department, but a larger majority (62%) approves of the job being done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Most Americans do not see the health of their state's residents as having improved over the past five years. In addition, a majority does not see their state public health department as having been effective in preventing chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.

This area of weakness is important because preventing chronic illnesses is one of the highest priorities for the public. State public health agencies are seen as more effective in combating outbreaks of infectious disease. However, with the exception of major epidemics such as H1N1, these diseases are lower on the public's list of health threats.

The polls suggest that Americans may support increased spending in the abstract but may find the expansion of specific health programs less salient. If Americans generally do not see prior health programs as having improved health in their state, they may not feel strongly about increased spending on new public health initiatives when there is increased public concern about the federal budget deficit and states are facing severe financial shortfalls because of the reduction in tax revenues as a result of the economic downturn and the slow recovery of the economy.

In addition to the possible threat from fiscal restraints, the poll results suggest a partisan divide. Republicans are generally opposed to the health reform law and much less supportive of additional spending on public health programs than Democrats are.


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Contact: Todd Datz
tdatz@hsph.harvard.edu
617-998-8819
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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