New analysis shows public support for health reform ultimately dependent on impact on individuals

D.C. debate focus on large-scale policy changes may miss the public’s chief concern

For immediate release: Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Boston, MA — In a new analysis of recent and historical public opinion data on healthcare reform, researchers from Harvard School of Public Health have concluded that public support for the final legislation will depend significantly on what people learn about the bill’s impact on their personal situation. Current public support for specific elements of the legislation will be a secondary factor.

The analysis, “The American Public and the Next Phase of the Health Care Reform Debate,” was performed by Robert Blendon, Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, and Research Associate John M. Benson. It appears as an Online First Perspective in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine ( The data for the analysis was drawn from 30 current national polls and from a reexamination of the Clinton health plan experience of 1994. Full text of the Perspective is available at:

Said Prof. Blendon: “The endgame in Washington with the public is going to be different than many in the Congress and White House believe today.”