Latinos Strongly Support Health Reform with a Public Option, Survey Finds

    • December 2, 2009

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico (RWJF-UNM Center), Latino Decisions and impreMedia released a poll this week that finds that, for the first time, health care tops the list of national issues that respondents identified as most important for Congress and the President to address. In April, a similar Latino Decisions poll found that only six percent of the Latino electorate identified health care as the most important issue.

“Latinos are very conscious of the finance-based rationing of care in our nation’s health care system, with about a third of the population uninsured despite among the highest levels of workforce participation in our society,” according to Robert Valdez, Ph.D., executive director of the RWJF Center for Health Policy. “Even if they have coverage, they know someone who does not and goes without care.”

The national survey of 1,000 Latino registered voters shows broad support not just for health care reform, but for a plan that includes a public option to compete with private insurance programs—supported by 74 percent of respondents.

Two-thirds of respondents said health care should be available regardless of citizenship or legal residency, and nearly as many (61 percent) support universal health care.

“This poll suggests that a bill with the public option that also provides access to those who are non-citizens will be looked upon favorably by the Latino electorate,” said Gabriel Sanchez, Ph.D., RWJF Center for Health Policy senior fellow, and assistant professor of political science at the University of New Mexico.

The survey also found 44 percent of Latinos say their needs have not been taken into account during the national health care debate.

Methodology: One thousand Latino registered voters were interviewed, and the poll had a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent. Latino registered voters were identified through a Spanish surname match against the statewide list of registered voters in 21 states. Latino Decisions selected the top 21 states with the highest number of Latino registered voters, and taken together, they account for more than 90 percent of the Latino electorate. Calls were conducted in English and Spanish, at the discretion of the respondent, and all respondents self-identified as Latino or Hispanic and registered to vote. The survey was fielded from November 1 to November 16, 2009.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico is the only health policy center dedicated to increasing the number of leaders from Latino and American Indian communities helping to shape the future of our nation’s health and health care. A collaboration of the University of New Mexico and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the RWJF Center for Health Policy focuses on inserting the perspectives of Latino, American Indian and other underrepresented groups into the most pressing health policy debates today.