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 LANSING, Mich., Feb. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Affordability of health care has emerged as one of the top three major issues in Michigan, according to a recent statewide poll, and though support exists for plans to broaden health insurance coverage, support drops significantly when it requires a tax increase to do so.
 Ensuring affordable health care tied with improving education at 15 percent when respondents were asked what is the major issue facing Michigan. Job creation led the top three issues with 37 percent.
 The poll was commissioned by the Partnership for Michigan Health Care, eight diverse organizations with a mutual interest in promoting a healthy state.
 Other top issues included fighting crime and drugs at 11 percent, lowering taxes at 10 percent, balancing the state budget at 7 percent, "other" at 5 percent and improving the environment at 2 percent.
 Within the health care issue, 41 percent of the respondents said making health insurance affordable is "the biggest problem facing the health care system in Michigan."
 Other health care problems cited were the high cost of health care at 25 percent, providing health care for the poor at 14 percent and having quality care available at 8 percent. Providing health care for the elderly was seen as a problem by 6 percent, combating drug and alcohol abuse at 3 percent, combating AIDS at 2 percent and reducing pollution at 1 percent.
 The poll, conducted by Public Sector Consultants, Inc., of Lansing, surveyed 800 Michigan residents in mid-December and has a 3.7-percent margin of error.
 "The poll clearly shows that health care has emerged as a major political issue in Michigan and that problems associated with the delivery of health care will be with us for some time," said Sister Monica Kostielney, chairman of the Partnership for Michigan Health Care and head of public affairs at the Michigan Catholic Conference.
 "Obviously, jobs are the major concern in Michigan," Sister Monica said. "But it is very significant that people at all income levels, even upper income people who traditionally have had good health benefits, cited concern about the affordability of health care, now and in the future."
 "And it is the future of Michigan's health care that concerns the Partnership," Sister Monica said. Partnership members include the Health Care Association of Michigan, Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, Michigan Catholic Conference, Michigan Hospital Association, Michigan Non-Profit Homes Association, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Michigan State Medical Society and New Detroit, Inc.
 "This poll also confirms that there is no agreement on what we should do as a society to ensure affordable health care," Sister Monica said. "We, as leaders in various fields, see a responsibility to find workable solutions to our state's health care problems."
 Sixty-one percent of those polled indicated they favor the U.S. Senate Democratic plan to mandate employer-provided health insurance coverage, either by buying the insurance directly or paying into a government insurance fund -- the so-called "play or pay" concept. That support drops to 43 percent, however, if the plan requires the employer to pay an 8-percent tax on wages.
 Nearly two-thirds believe that the federal and state government should cover the cost of people who cannot afford health care (39 percent federal and 23 percent state). When asked how much in additional taxes they are willing to pay to do so, 36 percent of the respondents said none and another 33 percent said between zero dollars and $20.
 An overwhelming majority (77 percent) believes reducing the availability of
health care services is not the way to reduce overall health care costs. A large number (44 percent), however, supports controlling Medicaid expenditures.
 Michigan citizens also do not want to increase state controls on the use of health care technology (46 percent support, 38 percent oppose) to reduce costs.
 And a strong majority (66 percent) opposes having patients pay directly a greater share of their medical bills.
 Respondents, however, are very willing (76 percent) to put limits on payments made to people from medical liability lawsuits. A total of 83 percent either strongly agrees (52 percent) or somewhat agrees (31 percent) that the increasing costs of medical liability insurance is a major state problem. A total of 84 percent strongly agrees (55 percent) or somewhat agrees (29 percent) that these rising costs contribute significantly to rising health care costs.
 Other findings of the Partnership for Michigan Health Care poll include:
 -- More than one-quarter of those without health insurance say they go without health care even though they need it.
 -- As health care becomes less affordable for the middle class, access to care for the poor becomes a lower priority in the public's mind.
 -- Poorer residents and Medicaid recipients, more so than even the elderly, are most likely to have seen their health decline in the last two years.
 -- Nearly three-quarters do not know how much employers pay for employee health insurance or think that employers pay less than they do (on average) for employee health coverage.
 -- Seventy-nine percent believe that AIDS is a very serious problem, but only 16 percent have done anything different to protect themselves from AIDS.
 -- Almost 60 percent of respondents believe that physicians should be able legally to help patients end their lives if two physicians certify that a person has less than six months to live, is mentally competent, and makes the request in writing.
 -0- 2/4/92
 /NOTE: A complete copy or an executive summary of 1991 Michigan Health Care poll sponsored by the Partnership for Michigan Health Care is available from CONTACT: Sister Monica Kostielney of Michigan Catholic Conference, 517-372-9310; David K. Fox of Michigan State Medical Society, 517-337-1351; or Nancy Fiedler of Michigan Hospital Association, 517-323-3443/ CO: Partnership for Michigan Health Care ST: Michigan IN: HEA SU:

ML-KK -- DE018 -- 6748 02/04/92 13:31 EST
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Date:Feb 4, 1992

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