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Cindy Fox Aisen
IU School of Medicine

Last modified: Thursday, April 22, 2010

More common ground in health care reform law disagreement than meets the eye

April 22, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS -- Less than a quarter of Americans want no changes to the health care legislation signed into law by the president last month but there may be more common ground with other Americans than many think, according to the latest national survey by researchers from Indiana University's Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research (CHPPR).

When survey respondents were asked how they viewed the new law:

  • 21 percent said they were completely satisfied
  • 28 percent said they wanted changes made in the law
  • 39 percent said they wanted the law repealed and to start the health care reform process from scratch
  • 13 percent said they did not want any government health care reform

Of the nearly four in 10 Americans who want the law repealed and new legislation enacted, many still favor the same reforms that are already contained in the new law.

"When we looked at the responses of those who said they wanted to repeal the law and start from scratch, with the exception of the requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance, most of the things that they wanted are already written into the law. It appears that the mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance may be the one thing they stringently oppose, and that may be the main motive for the push to repeal the legislation," said Dr. Aaron Carroll, director of CHPPR.

Even more surprising may be what people had to say about creation of a public option -- a government-run insurance plan that had been proposed, but dropped from the final version of the law. The survey found the public option to be very popular with 59 percent of those asked supporting this reform.

Another unexpected finding was how much the phrasing of the public option question clearly mattered. When the public option was framed as a government administered option that would "compete" with private health insurance, only 48 percent of Americans supported it. When framed instead as a "choice" between government-provided health insurance or private health insurance, the percentage of Americas who supported it increased to almost 75 percent.

"Obviously how you pitch the public option matters, but its support overall makes it ironic that this aspect of health care reform -- one that is apparently popular -- was left out in the end," said Carroll.

Of those who desired further reforms to the health-care system, 83 percent were supportive of adding provisions on medical malpractice reform, 85 percent endorsed the sale of insurance across state lines, and 73 percent wanted to see increased pharmaceutical regulation. However additional health-care reforms actually fell low on the list of priorities for the upcoming legislative session with reduction of the federal deficit and reforming financial system regulation being seen as the most important issues to be addressed.

Carroll is an associate professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine and a Regenstrief Institute affiliated scientist.

CHPPR is housed within the IU School of Medicine on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus. The center performs quick turnaround research on the topics of healthcare financing, the uninsured, medical education/training, and ethical, professional and legal issues pertaining to physician practice. It is the goal of the center to serve as an objective source of information for both policymakers and health care professionals.

This survey was designed and funded by CHPPR. Market Strategies International conducted the survey on behalf of CHPPR April 15-19. A total of 600 adults living in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia responded to this survey. The margin of sampling error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

A full report on the survey can be found at