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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


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