Black residents’ views on health policy could influence 2020 election

Recent public opinion data suggests that political candidates who want to appeal to Black voters in the upcoming election will need well-developed proposals on several health policy issues, including universal health insurance coverage, health and economic protections from the COVID-19 pandemic, and strong federal action on antiracist policing and policies.

The views of Black U.S. residents were outlined in an August 12, 2020 Insights article in JAMA Health Forum co-authored by Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, Emeritus, Mary Findling, research associate for the Harvard Opinion Research Program, and Nia Johnson, a PhD candidate in health policy at Harvard University.

Most Black adults (81%) say that health care issues are very important to their 2020 vote, according to the authors. For example, 75% believe that it’s the government’s responsibility to make sure that all residents have health insurance coverage. Most favor policies that would improve the Affordable Care Act (88%) and enact Medicare for All (73%).

Regarding the pandemic, roughly one-quarter of Black adults (24%) say they have a family member or close friend who has died of COVID-19, and a substantial share are critical of their state governors on several aspects of the outbreak in the U.S.

In the wake of recent high-profile police killings of Black individuals and subsequent protests, polling shows that Blacks perceive racism—which carries significant adverse health consequences—as the most important problem (45%) facing the nation today. Most Blacks favor policies to prevent police violence, and most also favor gradually redirecting police funding to social programs.

“Candidates that value Black U.S. residents’ votes need plans for addressing these issues,” the authors wrote.

Read the JAMA Health Forum article: Black US Residents’ Views on Health Policy—Implications for the 2020 Election