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Health care was not the decisive issue in presidential race

Forty-one percent say

they believe Bush has an HMO plan, while 52 percent believe that Gore has an HMO plan.

It's yet another surprise in an election full of them: Health care was not one of the top three factors in voters' minds when they cast their vote for president, according to the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA).

In fact, when asked which one or two issues (aside from character or other personal issues) were most important when voting for either Texas Gov. George W. Bush or Vice President Al Gore, Social Security (24 percent), education (23 percent), abortion (16 percent), taxes (13 percent), and the economy (12 percent) beat out health care (11 percent). (To view the entire survey, visit HIAA's Web site.)

Despite the candidates' intense pre-election focus on rising health care costs and prescription drug coverage for the elderly, when asked what is the most important problem facing the country, voters ranked health care costs (7 percent) behind the decline in moral values (11 percent), Social Security (9 percent), and quality of education (8 percent).

Health care costs, which included the respondents who named prescription drug costs as the top concern, tied with government corruption (7 percent) as the No. 1 problem in America.

Other surveys reported similar results. Health care ranked fourth (8 percent) behind the economy (18 percent), education (15 percent), and taxes and Social Security (tied at 14 percent) as the one issue that mattered most in voters' choice of president, according to election-day exit polls conducted by the Voter News Service, a consortium of NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, and The Associated Press.

Health care matters — regardless who wins

However, the results of HIAA's poll do not negate voters' continuing concern about health care, according to HIAA President Chip Kahn. "Despite the predominance of other issues, many voters consider health care and prescription drug costs to be a problem facing the country today," Kahn says. "Clearly, costs matter — and will continue to matter — regardless of who wins the White House."

Health care

issues came off the front pages about three weeks prior to

the election.

Health care issues came off the front pages about three weeks prior to the election and its aftermath, says Joseph Luchok, a HIAA spokesperson. "During the last few weeks, Congress moved on to other issues, particularly the budget," Luchok says. "Still, the survey indicates health care and prescription drug costs remain important issues with voters."

Other key findings from the HIAA survey include:

  • When asked to choose among five goals that could be followed for changing our health care system, the majority of voters chose providing basic health coverage to all Americans (30 percent), followed by making health care more affordable (29 percent).
  • Forty-one percent say they believe that Bush has an HMO plan, while 52 percent believe that Gore has an HMO plan.
  • Of the 7 percent who named health care as the primary factor influencing their vote for president, 53 percent say they chose Gore, while 26 percent say they chose Bush.

The post-election telephone poll surveyed 800 voters on Nov. 7, 2000. It was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va., and The Mellman Group of Washington, D.C. The survey's margin of error is plus or minus 3.46 percent.

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