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Americans favor reform – but not too much

Momentum is building in Washington to address numerous health care issues this year — namely, a prescription drug benefit in Medicare, managed care reform, and finding a way to address the problem of the uninsured. Certainly, there seems to be a mood in both parties to cooperate on several key pieces of legislation. For instance, Republicans now seem willing to support a pharmacy benefit in Medicare, while President Clinton has urged Congress to give the elderly a voluntary — not mandatory — opportunity to obtain such a benefit. Similar quiet resolve is evident on such issues as HMO liability and the uninsured.

Hand in hand with that resolve, though, is a feeling that whatever legislation is enacted will be watered down from the more far-reaching — and often polarizing — initiatives proposed in 1998 and 1999. This may be in sync with the sympathies of voters, whose desire for major change in health care seems only lukewarm this year.

The following responses are taken from a Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health survey conducted in January. Responses are those of registered voters.

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