Federal negotiations on prescription drug prices, covering kids’ health care, and requiring insurance companies to accept people with pre-existing health conditions are among the most popular elements of President Obama’s health reform platform among all Americans.

However, tempering the public’s majority support for these health plan ideas, Americans don’t have much confidence in Congress these days. Based on a poll taken by Rasmussen Reports on the stimulus package, two in three Americans say they trust their own judgment on economnic matters ore than they trust the average member of Congress. According to Rasmussen, “voters believe that no matter how bad things are, Congress can make it worse.”
HarrisInteractive conducted a poll online among just under 2,500 American adults in late January which found that 4 in 5 American adults know something about President Obama’s health reform ideas. There isn’t a huge difference between Americans of very high income (>$75,000) and very low income (<$15,000). For example, 82% of the richest Americans (>$75K) think that allowing Medicare and other government health plans to negotiate with drug companies to lower drug prices is a good idea; 80% of the poorest Americans believe in this strategy.
Where there is difference is between how Democrats feel about health reform specifics compared with Republican ideas on the subject. On overall agreement with Obama principles, 75% of Democrats are on-board, versus 26% Republican and 48% Independents.
In this context, note that a Rasmussen Reports survey this week found that 67% of Americans think they could do better at managing the economy than Congress is doing.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: The lack of bipartisan support in both the House and Senate for the stimulus package sets the stage for what health reform haggling could look like later this year. While there are bits and pieces of reforms that “most” people like, the differences between the parties could serve to derail any comprehensive plan for reform.

The #1 favored reform in this poll is Federal negotiation for prescription drug prices. Prescription drugs consume about 10% of national health spending. Americans need a solid education in topline health economics. Spending on prescription drugs has slowed in the past year due to the adoption of generic drugs.

The bulk of spending in health is on hospitals and physicians. Spending on drugs was about $228 million in 2007. Hospital spending growth increased 7.3% 2007 nearly $700 billion. Spending for physician and clinical services grew 6.5% percent in 2007 to just under $500 billion.

HarrisInteractive found that the more Americans learned about President Obama’s health proposals, the more they were positive about health reform. Americans will need to understand the fundamental economics that drive health care in the U.S. to get behind more comprehensive reform plans beyond drug prices. In the meantime, I’ve no doubt, based on the Rasmussen poll, that the public already believes they could redesign the health system better than Congress could.

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