Poll: Which Health Care Messages May Work Best In 2020

As in the 2018 midterm elections, a new Protect Our Care poll shows health care is an issue at the top of voters’ minds heading into 2020.

The nationwide, online survey of 1,000 voters found health care and the economy were the two most important issues for voters when deciding who to support in Congress and for president.

“Health care is now and will almost certainly remain the number one issue for voters across the country next November,” said Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, in a press release.

The poll, produced in conjunction with Hart Research Associates, “made clear that Democrats are well positioned to keep and expand their majority in the House if they continue to focus on lowering costs, improving and expanding access to health care and reversing the Trump-Republican sabotage agenda.”

Democrats Win On Health Care

Health care and the economy were the most important issues among Democrats, Independents and small town/rural voters. Among Republicans, 44% of voters said immigration was the most important issue, followed by the economy and health care.

Fifty-seven percent of voters said they disapproved of President Donald Trump’s handling of health care, with 44% strongly disapproving.

Among undecided voters, 61% disapproved of Trump’s handling of health care. Of those undecided, 44% of them voted for Trump in 2016, 29% voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton and 27% voted third party or did not cast a ballot.

Generally, 56% of respondents said they trusted the Democratic Party more on health care issues, with 25% saying they trusted Democrats “a lot more.” Twenty-two percent said the same of Republicans.

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Issue-Based Messaging

Funding for Medicare and Medicaid, drug price negotiations and protections for people with pre-existing conditions are a large part of the health care discussion.

When asked about negotiating prescription drug prices, 63% of respondents said Democrats’ efforts to lower drug prices made them more likely to vote for a Democrat, compared to a Republican that opposes government intervention in pricing.

On the topic of insurance discrimination against the elderly and Americans with pre-existing conditions, 62% said Republican efforts to tear down protections for pre-existing conditions and votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act made them more likely to support a Democratic candidate.

In a breakdown by party, even 32% of Republicans said Democrats’ support for federal negotiations in drug pricing made them more likely to vote for a Democrat. Among Independents, 67% said the issue made them more likely to vote blue.

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Where Voters Stand

When shown health care proposals put forth by the Trump Administration — an $800 billion funding cut for Medicare; $1 trillion-plus in reductions to Medicaid; and billions of dollars in tax breaks for drug companies — a majority of voters said they had “major doubts” about reelecting the president.

The poll showed funding cuts to Medicare most disturbed voters, with 61% saying the proposal made them question voting for Trump again.

Among all voters, the top two issues they want Congress to address are the reduction of health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and protecting Medicare. For Democrats, the issue they most wanted Congress deal with was expanding insurance to cover more Americans. Forty-one percent of “swing voters” said reducing premiums and out-of-pocket costs was their No. 1 priority for legislators.

Even in Congress, there is bipartisan agreement for the need to bring down drug prices in the U.S. Pharmaceutical companies are a popular target for lawmakers of both parties eager to show their constituents they’re making progress on the issue.

Protect Our Care’s data showed voters also are distrustful of drug companies, with 27% of respondents naming “big pharma” as the reason why health care costs are so high. Insurance companies come in second at 17%.

In terms of the policy discussion going on in the Democratic primary, according to the poll, Democrats want to see members of their party focus more on reducing drug prices, protecting pre-existing conditions coverage and stopping Trump from sabotaging the ACA, rather than making “major changes” to the health insurance system. Fifty-eight percent of Democrats chose “reduce prices/stop Trump efforts” compared to 39% who chose “universal coverage,” when asked what Democratic lawmakers should prioritize.

The poll also reflected an all-time high approval rating for the Affordable Care Act during the Trump Administration. Fifty-eight percent of people now have a favorable view of the health care policy, compared to 49% at the start of Trump’s presidency.

“Americans are tired of Republican’s constant attacks on their health care and Democrats are well positioned to take advantage of that fact by making lowering costs, expanding access and reversing the Trump-GOP sabotage agenda their number one priority,” said Protect Our Care’s Woodhouse.

“Just as health care propelled Democrats to win a majority in the House one year ago, it remains the issue that will put Democrats in a position to maintain their majority and take back the Senate and White House next November.”

 

By Josh Cook and Elizabeth Meyer
Posted 11/8/19

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