Retail News Breaks
Poll: Medicare, Medicaid among most popular gov't services
March 7th, 2011
NEW YORK – The popularity of programs like Medicare and Medicaid reflect the political minefield that budget-crunched public officials face when mulling cuts to government services, a new Harris Interactive poll finds.
Harris said Monday that an online survey of nearly 3,200 U.S. adults shows that large majorities of the public support many government services. The polling firm noted that the study illustrates the political difficulties of cutting government spending to remedy budget deficits if the cutbacks are seen as reducing the quantity or quality of popular programs and the services they provide.
Medicare and crime fighting/prevention were the most popular services and programs, supported "a great deal" or "somewhat" by 88% of respondents. Those were followed by Social Security (supported "a great deal" or "somewhat" by 85% of those polled), national parks (82%) and defense (80%).
Also popular with large majorities of adults were federal aid to public schools (79%), unemployment benefits (76%), environmental protection (76%), Medicaid (74%) and intelligence services (73%).
Support for some programs has slipped from 2009, according to Harris. For example, there is slightly less support in 2011 than in 2009 for unemployment benefits (down from 82% to 76%), Medicaid (down from 79% to 74%) and intelligence services (down from 79% to 73%).
Still, Harris said, support for many of these programs and services is higher now than it was in 2005 when the questions were first asked. For instance, support has increased by 10 points or more for crime fighting and prevention (from 77% to 88%), Medicare (76% to 88%), aid to public schools (69% to 79%) and intelligence services (61% to 73%).
Harris pointed out that the state of the economy and consumer sentiment are factors in terms of support for government services. When consumer confidence is high — and it was higher in 2005 — support for government services may decline, whereas when the economy is in bad shape and consumer confidence falls, as in 2008 and 2009, public support for many government programs may rise. Now that there has been a modest improvement in the economy and in consumer sentiment, support for public services has tailed off a bit, according to Harris.
The pharmacy sector has been carefully watching government support of Medicare and Medicaid in recent years to monitor the impact of health care reform and the economic downturn, which has hit state governments especially hard, on reimbursement for prescription drugs and related pharmacy services.
At the same time, the chain drug industry has highlighted the improved cost-efficiencies that could be attained through increased generic drug utilization and pharmacist-led medication therapy management services, which could help reduced avoidable medical costs at more expensive points of care.
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