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April 16, 1997

Voters and Health Care in the 1996 Election

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass (Dr Blendon and Mr Benson); John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass (Dr Blendon); and Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Menlo Park, Calif (Drs Brodie, Altman, Rowland, Neuman, and Mr James).

JAMA. 1997;277(15):1253-1258. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540390083049

OVER THE past decade, health care has emerged as an important issue for voters in national elections.1,2 As a result, political leaders from both parties have been shown to pay increasing attention to the views of voters when selecting their health care priorities and positions for the next administration and Congress.3,4 What message about health care policy should our elected officials, the health care community, and the American people take from the 1996 presidential and congressional elections? What, from the voters' perspective, should be the health care agenda for the next Congress?

This article uses the results of a postelection survey of self-described voters, combined with secondary analysis of 2 Election Day exit polls of voters and 3 national opinion surveys, to examine these questions. The voting public's responses tell us a great deal about the role of health care in the 1996 election and in the agenda