What do Americans want most from the array of new policies laid out in Democrats’ sprawling infrastructure bills? According to a new Politico-Harvard poll, it’s help with health care costs.
When asked about their top priorities for the legislative effort, the policy most frequently cited by respondents from a list of 20 items was the proposal to allow the federal government to negotiate lower prices with pharmaceutical companies. Thirty-nine percent of poll respondents chose that issue as “extremely important” to them, including 45% of Democrats and 38% of Republicans.
Other popular health care provisions cited by respondents include preparing for a future pandemic, providing long-term care for senior citizens and expanding Medicare to include dental, vision and hearing benefits.
The poll of 1,006 adults, carried out September 14-19, suggests that as far as the Democratic agenda is concerned, Americans are focused on the issues that affect their own lives, with drug prices having a more obvious and immediate impact than bridge construction or highway repairs.
Not that people are paying terribly close attention. Fifty-one percent of respondents said they were following the debate “not too/not at all closely,” while just 16% said they were following it “very closely.” Another 32% said they were following the debate “fairly closely,” bringing the total of all attention-payers to 48%.
“Half of the public is not following this great debate at all,” Robert Blendon of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health told Politico. “And that’s important because when I looked at the priorities, I see people picking things that relate to their own lives.”