Communicating the Needs of Children During the Congressional Health Reform Debate

Effective messaging in support of children's health coverage

During 2009 and 2010, staff at First Focus, a children’s advocacy group in Washington, used focus groups and nationwide opinion polls to identify the best language and arguments for advocates and legislators to use when communicating the needs of children during the congressional health care reform debate. The grantee, America’s Promise Alliance, is the fiduciary partner of First Focus.

The project team disseminated the results from the project on Capitol Hill to the children’s advocacy community and to traditional and nontraditional media outlets.

First Focus subcontracted with Lake Research Partners—a Washington-based public opinion and political strategy research firm—to conduct six focus groups (tow in Las Vegas, two in Augusta, Maine and two in Washington, D.C.) to help develop messaging strategies that would be effective in convincing voters that children must be a priority in the health care reform debate:

The project team conducted two randomized telephone surveys, each of some 1,000 registered voters nationwide, to gauge the level of public support for ensuring that children receive comprehensive health care coverage.

Key Findings: In the first telephone poll, the project team found that: by a margin of 87 percent to 11percent, Americans favored ensuring that all children have health care coverage. By a margin of 68 percent to 28 percent, Americans felt similarly even if doing so increased their taxes.

In the second telephone poll, the project team found that of the various reform elements tested, a provision that ensures that all children have health care coverage was most popular, with 89 percent in support and 75 percent in strong support.

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