From our colleague Cathy Arnst:
Plenty of political experts think health care reform has dropped to a very low priority in the election in the wake of the financial crisis gripping the U.S.. But voters appear to think differently, according to a new national poll from Marist College. An overwhelming 78% of voters responded that the next president should deal with health care reform even it means greater government debt, while just 17% said the next president should not address health care in light of the economic crisis. When broken down by party, 90% of registered Democrats, 67% of Republicans and 73% of independents say the next president should deal with the health care crisis regardless of national finances.
When asked what should be the top health care priority, 51% of voters chose affordability, while 40% opted for covering the uninsured. And 70% said they view health care reform as more important than cutting taxes; 27% chose taxes off health care. The poll meshes with recent surveys finding that insurance premiums continue to rise faster than the rate of inflation, as they have for the past decade and that 19.4% of Americans in families had trouble paying their medical bills last year.
Voters were also clear on which candidate they thought might do a better job on health care. In the Marist poll, 51% of those surveyed considered Obama the better candidate to tackle health care issues, vs 38% for Sen.John McCain.
All of that has health care activists hopeful that the issue will regain visibility on the campaign trail as the presidential race heads down to the wire, as this story on politico.com points out.
The poll sampled 801 adults 18 or older by phone on Sept.24 and 25th.