Sign Up for Email Alerts Visit us on Twitter Visit us on Facebook Visit us on YouTube Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Home > Past Briefings > Briefing Detail Page

Briefing Detail Page

Change Text Size:   Smaller Text Size   Larger Text Size   Default Text Size    

Public Opinion on Health Reform: What Do the Polls Mean?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Public support for health reform waxes and wanes depending, not only on what’s being proposed in the reform proposals, but also on who asks the question and how it is asked. Some recent polls indicate a majority of Americans support health care reform now; is that still the case? Do people want to pay for covering the uninsured – and if so, how much? What do seniors think about paying for health reform partly through changes to Medicare? Some polls indicate that most people like their physician but not the system. What if health reform means changing the system Americans now enjoy?

To address these and related questions, the Alliance for Health Reform and the Kaiser Family Foundation sponsored an October 23 briefing. Panelists were: Mark Blumenthal of, who has conducted and analyzed political and market research polls for more than 20 years; Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a frequent writer about public opinion and policy matters; Humphrey Taylor, chairman of Harris Interactive, who has had overall reponsibility for more than 8,000 surveys in 80 countries; and Mollyann Brodie, who directs Kaiser Family Foundation's public opinon survey efforts as a foundation vice president. Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated.

Findings from the Kaiser Family Foundation's October Health Tracking Poll were released at this event.

Transcript, Event Summary and/or Webcast and Podcast

Transcript: Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 10/23/2009
Event Summary: Public Opinion on Health Reform: What Do the Polls Mean? (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 10/23/2009
Full Webcast/Podcast: Public Opinion On Health Reform: What Do The Polls Mean?

The full webcast and podcast for this briefing, as well as videos of individual speakers' presentations, are provided by Kaiser Family Foundation.

Speaker Presentations

Mark Blumenthal's Powerpoint Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 10/23/2009
Humphrey Taylor's Powerpoint Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 10/23/2009
Mollyann Brodie's Powerpoint Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 10/23/2009

(If you want to download one or more slides from these presentations, contact us at info@allhealth or click here for instructions.)

Source Materials

Speaker Biographies (Adobe Acrobat PDF), , 10/23/2009
Selected Experts (Adobe Acrobat PDF), , 10/23/2009
Final CATG Polling Media Report (Adobe Acrobat PDF), , 10/23/2009
Public Opinion on Health Reform: What Do the Polls Mean? (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Alliance for Health Reform, 10/23/2009

Offsite Materials (briefing documents saved on other websites)

If Reform Passes, What Then?, National Journal, 10/5/2009
Staying Afloat in The Flood of Health Care Polling, National Journal, 6/22/2009
Putting the Public's Money Where Its Mouth Is, Health Affairs, 8/18/2009
20 Questions A Journalist Should Ask About Poll Results, National Council on Public Polls, 10/1/2009
FAQs: Answers to Questions we Often Hear from the Public, National Council on Public Polls, 10/1/2009
Toplines from Health Policy Polls,, 10/22/2009
Public Option Gains Support, Washington Post, 10/20/2009
Poll: Congress Gets Low Health Care Grade, CBS, 10/9/2009
Sharp Red, Blue Divide on U.S. Healthcare System, Zogby International, 10/15/2009
Health care polls leave pols dizzy, Politico, 9/28/2009
Poll: Public Says Voice Not Heard In Health Debate, National Public Radio, 9/30/2009
Massachusetts Health Reform: A Public Perspective From Debate Through Implementation, Health Affairs, 10/28/2008
Understanding How Americans View Health Care Reform, The New England Journal of Medicine, 10/6/2009


Mollyann Brodie of the Kaiser Family Foundation and Mark Blumenthal of offered insights on polling about health reform at the Oct. 23 briefing cosponsored by the foundation. Click on the player button above to see the complete webcast. Photo by Bob Peavy.

Humphrey Taylor, chairman of the Harris Poll, explained how polls can confuse rather than enlighten policymakers at the Oct. 23 briefing cosponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Click on the player button above to see the complete webcast. Photo by Bob Peavy.

Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute offered cautions about the use of polls at the Oct. 23 briefing cosponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Click on the player button above to see the complete webcast. Photo by Bob Peavy


Uwe Reinhardt Questions Bundled Payment Savings Prospects

Video (2:58)

A new Alliance for Health Reform video features Princeton’s Uwe Reinhardt questioning whether bundling payments for medical services might actually lead to higher – not lower – costs.

"The ACO's, the accountable care organizations, could create local monopolies that could dictate to you what that bundled price would be, and some of us fear that bundled prices might be even more than what the fee-for-service for that bundle would be today. … You really should align all the payers and say, 'Let us jointly negotiate with the ACOs what those bundles should be so that they cannot divide and rule and sort of make us on the buy side weak.'"


Read More 

Sister Carol Keehan on Health Law Enrollment Challenges this Year

Video 3:00

A new Alliance for Health Reform video features Sister Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Association of the United States addressing the challenges of quickly enrolling millions of Americans for health insurance this fall. Open season begins October 1 of this year, yet she says that up to 85 percent of those who will be newly eligible for Medicaid or for subsidies to buy private insurance in state-based exchanges don't know it.  FULL TRANSCRIPT

Read More 

Jonathan Blum on CMS Efforts to Keep Medicare Spending Growth Down

Video (2:54)

Jonathan Blum, acting principal deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicare at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), addresses the slower growth of Medicare spending over the last few years, and what his agency is doing to try and continue the trend. “There are promising signs that this strategy to change the payment system, to change the payment models, to focus on waste and abuse, is paying off," he said. "We are taking a whole new approach to addressing fraud in the program. Much more data resources, much more on the ground reaction. We have seen dramatic spending declines in areas of spending, such as home health and durable medical supplies that historically fueled lots of the fraud.”  FULL TRANSCRIPT

Read More 

Two Former Medicare Administrators Discuss How to Save the Program

A new Alliance for Health Reform video features two former Medicare administrators -- Gail Wilensky and Bruce Vladeck -- on their ideas about how to save the program.

Ms. Wilensky, who ran Medicare in a Republican administration, argued for increasing the eligibility age of Medicare for future retirees, while still making the program available at age 65 for those who are disabled.

Watch at

Read More 

Douglas Holtz-Eakin: Health Care Spending Lull Only Temporary

Video (3:11)

A new Alliance for Health Reform video features Douglas Holtz-Eakin of the American Action Forum, and a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, arguing that recent slower spending growth in health care won’t continue.

"We also saw a slowdown in the mid-90s, and we all declared victory and it came right back. I think next year we’ll see a noticeable uptick. There will be lots of new people entering the insurance markets because of the exchanges and the subsidies that come along with them, and those subsidies are very generous. … These are an invitation for people to get coverage and to buy more health care. I think that’ll place a lot of pressure on spending."


Read More 

Marketplace Enrollment Helpers Toolkit

Beginning October 1, insurance marketplaces open for enrollment, and millions of people will be eligible to purchase plans. To guide them in the application process, the federal government has invested in programs to train community organizations and hired staff.

Read More 

The Employer Mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The Toolkit, available here, details the ACA’s employer requirements and penalty. It also includes information about the delay in the mandate to 2015, and analysis about its impact on employer-based coverage.

Read More 

Toolkit: Training the Workforce for a Changing Health System

A new Alliance for Health Reform toolkit addresses concerns about whether newly-trained physicians are adequately prepared for today's evolving health care delivery system. Does training adequately emphasize care coordination, team-based care, costs of care, health information technology, cultural competence and quality improvement? Does it encourage students to practice in a primary care setting?

Read More 

Toolkit: Emergency Preparedness in the U.S.: The Ebola Threat

Is the U.S. prepared for a potential virulent pandemic? This new Alliance toolkit examines public health infrastructure, funding and policy levers that deal with these kinds of health crises in America.

Read More 

Copyright 1997-2014 Alliance for Health Reform
1444 Eye Street, NW, Suite 910 Washington, DC 20005-6573      202-789-2300      202-789-2233 fax      Sitemap