Healthcare key for seniors in 2002 election

January 1, 2003

Pharmaceutical Representative

Healthcare was the number-one issue driving congressional votes among Americans age 65 and older in 2002, according to a national survey.

Healthcare was the number-one issue driving congressional votes among Americans age 65 and older in 2002, according to a national survey commissioned by the Washington-based Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Within the healthcare issue, seniors said strengthening Medicare and enacting a prescription drug benefit were their top concerns.

The survey, which was conducted on the eve of last November's congressional elections, found that among voters overall, the economy and terrorism/national security were the top issues that determined congressional votes, and the issue of prescription drug prices had relatively little impact on voting decisions. The poll also found that Americans were not moved by attacks on pharmaceutical companies. A majority of voters said they believed politicians' campaign rhetoric about prescription drug prices was politically motivated and not genuine.

"The biggest issue in [last November's] elections was the economy," said Q. Whitfield Ayres, president of Ayres, McHenry and Associates, the public opinion research firm that conducted the study. "But among seniors, healthcare was the top issue influencing their vote for Congress. Fully funding Medicare and providing a prescription drug benefit were the greatest healthcare motivators for voters aged 65 and older."

Ayres added: "It is equally clear that prescription drug prices were not a dominant issue overall."

Drug benefit needed

Alan F. Holmer, president of PhRMA, said the results of the poll show that Americans are not swayed by attacks on the pharmaceutical industry. He also commented that politicians should work to get a prescription drug benefit passed.

"We also hope that the new Congress will get the message that seniors need, deserve and want a Medicare drug benefit passed and signed into law," Holmer concluded. PR

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