Most polls had Hillary Clinton surging ahead of Donald Trump last month, but among health care executives, the candidates were in a dead heat, according to a MediMedia Research survey.
Forty-seven percent of the 432 respondents to the online survey conducted from August 4 to August 26 said they plan to vote for Clinton, and the exact same percentage said they intend to vote for the Republican nominee.
The tie is a bit surprising. Clinton tends to lead Trump among voters with college and professional school educations. But as Mark Spickler, a MediMedia Research analyst, points out, the respondents to MediMedia Research’s survey tilted Republican (42% indicated they are registered Republicans, compared with 30% who are registered Democrats and 28% who are not registered in either party). And they were Romney supporters by a comfortable margin in the last presidential, with 56% voting for the Republican nominee compared with 43% for President Obama.
MediMedia Research is part of MediMedia Managed Markets, an ICON plc company and owner of Managed Care. The 10-minute survey on election issues was sent to Managed Care readers. About half of the respondents said they worked for a medical group or integrated delivery system, and the group included 132 physicians and 61 pharmacists.
When they were asked about which issues are important in this election, health care and the ACA was in the middle of the pack, with 70% rating them as being very important (6–7 on a scale of 1–7). But even among these health care executives, terrorism and national security, future Supreme Court selections, and the economy rated higher than health care. That’s consistent with what polls are finding — and pundits are saying — about the general electorate.
Scale 1–7; 1=not at all important, 7=extremely important
Most of the respondents to the MediMedia survey for our readers thought Trump would do a better job dealing with health care when it comes to making it more efficient (54% vs. 46% for Clinton) and encouraging more innovation (59% vs. 41%). On the other hand, a clear majority favored Clinton when it comes to limiting cost shifting to consumers (56% vs. 44% for Trump) and bringing about value-based care (53% vs. 47%). Spickler says the split may reflect Trump’s appeal as an outsider and a businessman and Clinton’s as the candidate with a background in health policy and an ardent supporter of the ACA. Yet polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation has shown that among voters, most favor Clinton over Trump when asked which candidate represents their views on health care.
The MediMedia survey found an enthusiasm gap. When the respondents were separated by party, Republicans tended to be stronger supporters of Trump’s health care proposals (price transparency, health care savings accounts, allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines) than the Democrats were of Clinton’s (limiting out-of-pocket expenditure, creating a public option, letting people in their 50s and early 60s buy into Medicare). Furthermore, the Republican respondents rated Clinton’s proposals lower than Democrats rated Trump's. “I think this shows just how polarized the positions of the parties are, even among health care executives,” says Spickler. “Republicans, in particular, do not favor anything proposed by Democrats, so it will be difficult to find any kind of middle ground.”
Not surprisingly, opinion about the ACA is especially divided and skews negative. Among the respondents as a whole, 27% gave the ACA the lowest favorability rating while 12% gave it the highest. In contrast, opinions about MACRA skewed in a positive direction, perhaps because MACRA hasn’t been implemented so there is no experience with it yet.
Scale 1–7; 1=not at all favorable, 7=extremely favorable
Source for all charts: MediMedia Research
The pattern of opinion about the Right to Try laws and the 21st Century Cures Act were remarkably similar with the largest group in the middle range of favorability. The Right to Try laws, which have been passed at the state level, and the 21st Century Cures Act, have drawn support from critics of the FDA who believe the agency is too slow and interfering when it comes to approving new therapies.