Public Opinion

With Congress speeding toward the biggest expansion of Medicare in the program’s history, we wanted to know what the American people think about the legislative options and their potential impact on health care and drug coverage. To find out, we drafted questions for an in-depth public opinion survey that we hope will provide a fresh perspective.

The survey is being conducted by Zogby International this week – while the issue is in the media spotlight – and we are anxiously awaiting the results.

We will discuss the findings at a news conference on Monday morning at 10 a.m. at the National Press Club with a Zogby representative presenting details. I’ll be there to provide some insight on the implications for the public policy debate. See the events section below for more details. Please join us!

Meanwhile in the House, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas is working hard to leverage the Medicare drug benefit to inject real reforms into the program – a crucial goal.

He wants private health plans to be able to offer comprehensive health services, including an integrated drug benefit, and to give the plans a fighting chance of competing with traditional Medicare.

A key recommendation: Under the bill that his committee approved on Tuesday, real competition wouldn’t start until 2010, but it could and should start even earlier – in 2007 – so that a (second) Bush administration would be in charge of writing the rules.

The Senate continues its floor debate, and more members appear to be getting into the spirit of reform. After Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley wrote his Medicare bill with Ranking Democrat Max Baucus, 27 Republican senators started raising questions and yesterday sent a letter to the president demanding that the bill include more meaningful reform and genuine private-sector options.

Could the legitimate questions about the Senate bill be the result of analysis of the policy experts from the think tanks? We hope so. And we’re not going to let up.



  • Travel Update: Last week, I was in Chicago to join Jim Rodgers, the AMA’s influential and diligent vice president for health policy, as we gave two presentations on Medicare to physicians attending the AMA annual meeting.

    Monday: Back in Washington where Bob Moffit and Ed Haislmaier of Heritage, Joe Antos of AEI, and I warned Senate staff in a well-attended briefing of the dangers and missed opportunities in the Senate Medicare legislation.

    Wednesday: To St. Louis for meetings to discuss with another physicians’ group the value of refundable tax credits for the uninsured.

    Thursday: To Hartford, CT with my colleague Greg Scandlen to learn first hand from experts in the nation’s insurance capital about developments in consumer-driven health care and also what needs to be done for private plans to be willing to participate in a new Medicare program.

    Today: To Midland, MI for a seminar at Northwood University to discuss with students whether a market-based health care system can provide access to health care to the uninsured. (Answer: Of course, especially if distortions are rectified, including regressive tax inequities.)

Hope to see you Monday morning back in Washington for our briefing.

Grace-Marie Turner




Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a not-for-profit research organization focusing on ideas to promote free-market health reform. She can be reached at P.O. Box 19080, Alexandria, VA, 22320.

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With Congress speeding toward the biggest expansion of Medicare in the program’s history, we wanted to know what the American people think about the legislative options and their potential impact on health care and drug coverage. To find out, we drafted questions for an in-depth public opinion survey that we hope will provide a fresh perspective.

The survey is being conducted by Zogby International this week – while the issue is in the media spotlight – and we are anxiously awaiting the results.

We will discuss the findings at a news conference on Monday morning at 10 a.m. at the National Press Club with a Zogby representative presenting details. I’ll be there to provide some insight on the implications for the public policy debate. See the events section below for more details. Please join us!

Meanwhile in the House, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas is working hard to leverage the Medicare drug benefit to inject real reforms into the program – a crucial goal.

He wants private health plans to be able to offer comprehensive health services, including an integrated drug benefit, and to give the plans a fighting chance of competing with traditional Medicare.

A key recommendation: Under the bill that his committee approved on Tuesday, real competition wouldn’t start until 2010, but it could and should start even earlier – in 2007 – so that a (second) Bush administration would be in charge of writing the rules.

The Senate continues its floor debate, and more members appear to be getting into the spirit of reform. After Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley wrote his Medicare bill with Ranking Democrat Max Baucus, 27 Republican senators started raising questions and yesterday sent a letter to the president demanding that the bill include more meaningful reform and genuine private-sector options.

Could the legitimate questions about the Senate bill be the result of analysis of the policy experts from the think tanks? We hope so. And we’re not going to let up.



  • Travel Update: Last week, I was in Chicago to join Jim Rodgers, the AMA’s influential and diligent vice president for health policy, as we gave two presentations on Medicare to physicians attending the AMA annual meeting.

    Monday: Back in Washington where Bob Moffit and Ed Haislmaier of Heritage, Joe Antos of AEI, and I warned Senate staff in a well-attended briefing of the dangers and missed opportunities in the Senate Medicare legislation.

    Wednesday: To St. Louis for meetings to discuss with another physicians’ group the value of refundable tax credits for the uninsured.

    Thursday: To Hartford, CT with my colleague Greg Scandlen to learn first hand from experts in the nation’s insurance capital about developments in consumer-driven health care and also what needs to be done for private plans to be willing to participate in a new Medicare program.

    Today: To Midland, MI for a seminar at Northwood University to discuss with students whether a market-based health care system can provide access to health care to the uninsured. (Answer: Of course, especially if distortions are rectified, including regressive tax inequities.)

Hope to see you Monday morning back in Washington for our briefing.

Grace-Marie Turner




Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a not-for-profit research organization focusing on ideas to promote free-market health reform. She can be reached at P.O. Box 19080, Alexandria, VA, 22320.

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About the author