Americans' Conflicting Views about the Public Health System, and How to Shore Up Support

This analysis of national opinion polls shows that a majority of Americans support increased spending on public health in general and that they see public health interventions as saving money in the long term. At the same time, many do not favor increased federal spending in a number of areas that public health officials deem important. In addition, polls show striking partisan differences, with Republicans much less supportive than Democrats of additional spending on public health. This split may have political implications for the public health component of the new health reform law if there is a change in party control of one or more houses of Congress after the November 2010 elections. As a result, in order to sustain public support for increased spending, it will be critically important to give examples of cost savings from public health programs and to highlight how they have reduced mortality from major chronic illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS.

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