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SURVEY FINDS AMERICANS WILLING TO PAY HIGHER TAXES IN RETURN FOR COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CARE REFORM

SURVEY FINDS AMERICANS WILLING TO PAY HIGHER TAXES IN RETURN FOR
 COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CARE REFORM
 WASHINGTON, May 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The Mildred and Claude Pepper Foundation released a nationwide survey on voters' opinion which showed the willingness of the American public to pay increased taxes for comprehensive health care reform, including long-term care. This finding runs counter to surveys conducted by the health care insurance industry. The Pepper Foundation commissioned the nationally known survey firm of Peter D. Hart Research Associates to draft and conduct the survey.
 "These results should demonstrate to our national policy makers, including the president and Congress, that the American people not only want national health care reform but they are willing to pay for a system that guarantees everyone access to affordable, quality care. I urge our elected officials to heed the will of the American electorate and place health care reform on a fast legislative track," said Frances Campbell, president of the Mildred and Claude Pepper Foundation.
 "The survey definitely shows that Americans want to move toward a national health policy. The alternative approach of keeping the basic structure but trying to control costs is not preferred," said Dr. Robert Blendon of Harvard University School of Public Health.
 The major findings of the survey include:
 Willingness to Pay -- Most Americans recognize that the creation of a national health insurance system would require increased taxes, and three-fifths of voters say they would be willing to pay an extra nationwide tax of $50 per month to finance a national health insurance plan. A slightly larger share of the electorate say they would be willing to spend an additional $50 per month in taxes for a separate long-term care plan that covered all Americans.
 Taxes -- Two types of taxes which are deemed most acceptable revenue sources by clear majorities are an increase in the taxes on liquor and cigarettes and an increase in the personal income taxes for households earning more than $50,000. Two taxes which are unacceptable are an increase in the tax on gasoline and an increase in the tax on Social Security benefits that the high-income elderly pay.
 Support for National Health Insurance -- American voters believe there is a need to overhaul the current system of financing health care, rather than simply imposing tougher cost control measures on the current system. By two to one, voters express support for the establishment of government-sponsored national health insurance, even when presented with the criticism that this approach would require a major tax increase and more governmental involvement in the health care system.
 Crisis in Health Care -- Despite the fact that most Americans have some type of health insurance coverage today, the public believes the status quo in health care is beset by serious problems of affordability. A large majority of voters (68 percent) state that if they were to become unemployed they would find it extremely or very difficult to pay for health care insurance.
 The Mildred and Claude Pepper Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation, was established by the late Claude Pepper in 1986. Sen. Pepper championed the cause of government's responsibility to ensure that all Americans received quality health care during his entire legislative career. As chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Wartime Health and Education he recommended a national program for health care in the late 1940s.
 In 1988 Pepper made one of his last fights for comprehensive health care when he attempted to expand Medicare to include home care. His bill would have assisted millions of Americans suffering from Alzheimer's, cancer, AIDS, Parkinson's disease, stroke, birth defects or those afflicted in any way which rendered them in need of long-term care. While unsuccessful in his fight he helped elevate the consciousness of America and its policy makers to the crisis in medical costs and access to quality and affordable health care. He was successful in establishing a bi-partisan commission on health care, which made important recommendations on health care reform and was renamed the Pepper Commission after his death.
 -0- 5/15/92
 /CONTACT: Charles Nichols of the Mildred and Claude Pepper Foundation, 703-893-9636/ CO: The Mildred and Claude Pepper Foundation ST: District of Columbia IN: HEA SU:


KD-DC -- DC013 -- 0761 05/15/92 12:47 EDT
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Date:May 15, 1992
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