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Poll: American Public Supports Investment in Prevention As Part of Health Reform

Posted Nov 13 2009 10:04pm

Trust for America''s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) released a public opinion survey that finds that 71 percent of Americans favor an increased investment in disease prevention and that disease prevention is one of the most popular components of health reform. Forty-four percent of Americans strongly favor investing more in prevention.


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In the poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies, investing in disease prevention receives majority support from across the political spectrum (85 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of Republicans, and 68 percent of Independents) and across the country (72 percent in the Northeast, 73 percent in the South, 71 percent in the West, and 69 percent in the Midwest).

By nearly a three-to-one margin (70 percent to 24 percent), people think prevention will save money rather than cost money. Sixty percent of Americans believe investing in prevention is worth it at a cost of $34 billion out of the $900 billion total proposed health reform spending proposals. Sixty-five percent of Americans say they would either be more likely to support a member of Congress who votes for the proposal to invest in prevention or that it would make no difference to their vote.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans rank investing in prevention between an eight and 10 on a scale of zero to ten, where zero means not at all an important health care priority and 10 means very important. Prevention is the second highest proposal tested, after prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage because of age, medical history, or pre-existing conditions. Other proposals tested included providing tax credits to small businesses and requiring all businesses to provide health care for their employees or contribute to a fund to help pay for their coverage.

Majorities of Americans were found to favor specific key disease prevention reform proposals, including:

  • 82 percent of Americans favor a proposal to ensure that public health workers are well trained, have up-to-date laboratories, and are adequately equipped to communicate with the public about health threats. 51 percent of Americans strongly favor this proposal;
  • 73 percent of Americans favor a proposal to provide for education loan repayment to make sure we have enough public health professionals to combat shortages in health departments and meet health needs. 42 percent of Americans strongly favor this proposal;
  • 72 percent of Americans favor a proposal to establish a Public Health Investment Fund that would dedicate annual funding to prevention. This would be used to invest in improving nutrition and physical activity in our schools and communities, expand access to immunizations, and test new approaches to staying healthy so people have the information to make their own best decisions about how to be healthy and prevent disease. 45 percent of Americans strongly favor this proposal;
  • 58 percent of Americans favor a proposal to create a National Prevention and Wellness Strategy to coordinate our efforts by assessing the health of our country, establishing priorities, and setting health goals. All community programs would be held accountable to rigorous evaluation to ensure we are investing in things that work. 29 percent of Americans strongly favor this proposal; and
  • 58 percent of Americans favor a Preventive Services Task Force, an independent entity that reviews scientific evidence and cost-effectiveness of prevention programs, which recommends ways to improve prevention programs and provide local community health services with key information to help people make healthier choices. 28 percent of Americans strongly favor this proposal.

The poll, which reflects the responses from 1,008 registered voters, was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies from November 2 to 5, 2009. The margin of error was +/- 3.1 percent.


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