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Poll: Health Care a Top Issue For Midterm Voters

Both nationally and in Florida and Nevada, voters focused on health care

Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., right, and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., are running for re-election amid a national electorate focused on health care. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., right, and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., are running for re-election amid a national electorate focused on health care. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A majority of individuals rank health care as a “very important” issue in determining who they plan to vote for, according to a new poll that looks at prospective voters nationally as well as in two key battleground states.

Thirty percent of those polled nationally selected health care as the “most important” issue, outranking the economy, immigration, and gun policy, according to data from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

However, the importance of health care to voters’ support fell along party lines. Democrats and independents viewed health care as a more important issue than Republicans.

Forty percent of Democrats and 31 percent of independents ranked it as the top issue, while only 17 percent of Republicans did.

GOP Shifts Messaging on Health Care Ahead of Midterm Election

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Republicans’ top issues were immigration (with 25 percent ranking it first) and the economy and jobs (23 percent).

Voters especially have concerns with the climbing costs of prescription drugs and access to care. Of those surveyed who ranked health care as “very important,”24 percent view rising costs and 19 percent said access to care as the issue most important to them. Only 4 percent cited proposals to switch to a government-run system such as Medicare-for-all.

Trends in Florida and Nevada, two states with tight Senate and gubernatorial elections, mostly mirror the national survey data.

Health care ranks as the top issue for 26 percent of Florida voters, where Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is fighting to keep his seat from Republican challenger Rick Scott, the current governor.

In Nevada, health care ranks among the top issues for 24 percent of people polled alongside immigration (23 percent of respondents) and the economy and jobs (21 percent). Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican who voted to repeal the 2010 health care law ( PL 111-148 , PL 111-152 ) last year, is in a tight race with Rep. Jacky Rosen, a Democrat.

Majorities of voters in both states said they are likely to support a candidate who wants to maintain the health care law’s protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions.

Heller supports a bill (S 3388) that would attempt to protect these protections if the health care law is struck down by the courts. Twenty state attorneys general are currently suing to have these protections overturned in Texas v. Azar.

In addition to pre-existing conditions, voters are concerned with Medicaid expansion, rising drug costs and expanding health care access.

Florida is one of 17 states that did not expand Medicaid, while Nevada expanded its program in 2014. Forty-nine percent of Florida voters want to vote for a candidate who supports expanding Medicaid, while 28 percent want to keep the program as is. The Republican candidate for governor in Florida, former Rep. Ron DeSantis, is against Medicaid expansion, while his Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum, supports it.

In Florida, 47 percent of voters support regulating the prices of prescription drugs while 23 percent oppose that. In Nevada, 39 percent of people polled support drug price regulation but 32 percent do not.

Voters in both states also slightly favor a national health care plan or Medicare-for-all. In Florida, 43 percent of individuals support such a plan while 33 percent oppose it. Gillum supports a national health plan, but the policy is not likely to move forward in a Republican-controlled legislature.

In Nevada, 47 percent would support a candidate in favor of a national health plan while 33 percent would oppose a candidate with this view.

The survey results were conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation from Sept. 19 to Oct. 2 among a nationally representative random telephone sample of 1,201 adults, and a representative sample of 599 Floridians and 599 Nevadans.

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