Voters: Health Care System Needs Complete Overhaul or Significant Change

Few Know Where Elected Officials Stand on Health and Research
Thursday, July 19, 2007

WASHINGTON—July 19, 2007—Most registered voters say our health care system needs real change and that federal research agencies need more funding, according to public opinion data released today by Research!America, the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation and other partners.

The poll is part of Your Congress–Your Health, an ambitious new initiative aimed at sparking dialogue between Congress and their constituents on health and research issues. This interactive tool presents responses from Congress at www.yourcongressyourhealth.org, allowing visitors to compare the views of their delegation.

In the national poll, registered voters say our health care system needs a complete overhaul (37%) or significant changes (37%). Only one-fourth (24%) say it needs only minor adjustments. Yet just 14% of voters say they are very well informed on their elected officials’ views on health care and only 11% on issues of medical, health and scientific research.

“Since health is among Americans’ top domestic priorities, it’s no surprise they have strong opinions and want to know where their representatives in Congress stand,” said the Honorable John Edward Porter, Research!America chair and former Illinois congressman.

Nearly half (47%) say we must increase our investment in the National Institutes of Health to ensure our health and economic security. Only 13% say such investment is not a priority now. Three-quarters of voters oppose President Bush’s recommended FY08 cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s core funding, and 42% say that funding should be increased.

Other poll findings include:

  • 59% agree that the federal government has a responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage;
  • 50% think Congress should mandate a nationally uniform system of electronic health records;
  • 56% favor federal funding for embryonic stem cell research; and
  • 70% say the United States is losing its competitive edge in science, technology and innovation.

Launched in March, Your Congress–Your Health solicited feedback from PARADE magazine’s 74 million readers through its Web site, which received an unprecedented spike in comments on the topics of health and research. Based on this public response, Research!America and its partners developed 15 questions and invited all members of Congress to address them. The Your Congress–Your Health Web site presents members’ responses in an easy-to-use format searchable by ZIP code, state and member name. To date, nearly one-fourth of the current Congress has responded, and participation continues to grow.

“This program builds on our 2006 Your Candidates–Your Health voter guide,” said Mary Woolley, Research!America president. “With Your Congress–Your Health, we aim to educate the voting public, particularly the 125 million Americans represented by Research!America members, about their representative’s and senators’ positions on research and health. Second, and no less important, we want to show members of Congress how much their constituents care about these issues.”

The national public opinion poll was conducted by Charlton Research Company. The poll was conducted by telephone (random-digit dialing) with a sample size of 800 registered voters and a margin of error of ±3.5 percent.

About Your Congress–Your Health
To see complete poll results and responses from Congress, visit www.yourcongressyourhealth.org. Members of Congress who have yet to respond to the questionnaire may still do so by visiting www.yourcongressyourhealth.org/login.

Joining Research!America and the Lasker Foundation in this initiative are AARP, Alzheimer’s Association, American Academy of Nursing, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, Association of American Medical Colleges, Association of Schools of Public Health, The Endocrine Society, The Joseph H. Kanter Family Foundation, Kidney Cancer Association, National Alliance for Hispanic Health, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Revolution Health , Society for Neuroscience and United Health Foundation.

In partnership with the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, the entire Web site has been translated into Spanish. Visit www.yourcongressyourhealth.org/espanol.

About the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation
The Foundation’s mission is to foster the prevention and treatment of disease and disability by honoring excellence in basic and clinical science, and through public education and research advocacy. The centerpiece activity of the Foundation is an annual awards program, which recognizes transforming achievements in basic and clinical research, as well as significant public service in behalf of medical science. For more information, see www.laskerfoundation.org.

About Research!America
Research!America is the nation’s largest not-for-profit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, Research! America is supported by more than 500 member organizations that represent the voices of 125 million Americans.

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Media Contacts

Robert Shalett
Director of Communications 
571-482-2737

If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana