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JAMA Forum

Doing Health Reform Better: Listening to the Public

To hear politicians talk about it, there are very stark battle lines in the United States over health care. But what the US public has to say and how poorly politicians and policy makers listen drives much of that conclusion. And much of it is wrong.

To achieve the health reforms worthy of the country, it is critical to pay attention to what the public is saying before jumping so conclusively to policy answers.

To hear Republicans tell it, the US public is deeply concerned about the role of government infringing on their choices and are seeking freedom from regulations. There are scant data that say this is a top health care concern. To listen to the early Democratic primary debate, one would think there are stark differences in the public’s mind about Medicare for All, single payer, and other forms of universal coverage. Although data suggest the public is strongly in favor of universal converge, there is little evidence of this.

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