Voters believe expanded health insurance coverage should be a top issue in the Nov. 5 elections, according to a poll conducted for the American Hospital Association.
The survey of 1,000 registered voters found that 13% believe expanding health insurance coverage should be the highest priority of their representative in Congress. Protecting senior citizen programs such as Medicare was considered the most important by 18% of respondents, and balancing the federal budget was most important to 16%.
But more respondents ranked expanding health insurance higher than cutting taxes, which was considered most important by only 6% of the survey's respondents.
The poll-conducted by the Republican polling firm American Viewpoint and Democratic consultant Frederick Schneider Research-also found that half the voters polled said they preferred an incremental approach to expanding coverage, while only one-third believed Congress should pursue a comprehensive package.
Nearly half the respondents wanted presidential candidates to debate how to achieve health insurance coverage for all Americans.
AHA officials said the poll shows that political candidates, particularly the two major-party presidential candidates, are not addressing one of the most important issues to voters.
The AHA last week sent 50 "wallet cards" to the chief executive officers of its member hospitals. The cards were inscribed with a question to pose to political candidates about expanding health insurance coverage. The AHA encouraged CEOs to distribute the cards to senior executives, trustees and volunteer leaders.