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New Poll Shows Concerns with Current Health Care System Remain High

AARP, AMA and ANA Jointly Release New Data

For immediate release
Sept. 9, 2009

WASHINGTON - New polling released today shows that Americans 50-plus remain concerned with the current health care system, underscoring the need for reform.

Data released jointly today by AARP, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Nurses Association (ANA), show that about half of people over 50-years old are concerned that there won't be enough nurses or doctors to provide care in the future, and two-thirds of those polled are either very or somewhat concerned that the current system limits their ability to see the doctor of their choice.

"The fact that we need to strengthen our health care system may have been lost in some of the media coverage over the last several weeks, but this survey of Americans shows that the need is as great as ever," said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond. "Tonight the President will address Congress, and while AARP hasn't endorsed any of the bills, it is critical - especially based on this polling - that any solution ensures that people can see the health professional they want, when they want - particularly for people on Medicare."

The polling found that nearly nine in ten people (87 percent) believed it was important for doctors to be reimbursed adequately so they continue to accept patients on Medicare.

"Dedicated physicians work day and night to provide their patients with high quality care within the confines of a fragmented health system," said AMA Immediate Past President Nancy H. Nielsen, MD. "This poll shows the public shares our concern about improving our health care system for all Americans. The status quo is unacceptable and we must work to achieve meaningful reform this year."

The poll also revealed that most people believe there are not enough nurses to support the current health care system, and that the nurse shortage will remain a problem in the near future.

"Two-thirds of the poll respondents are sensing what we have recognized for the last decade - that we are experiencing a critical nursing shortage and that it will worsen as the rates of registered nurse retirements and aging Baby Boomers requiring health services each increase," said ANA President Rebecca M. Patton, MSN, RN, CNOR. "Health care reform must ensure that the RN workforce is sufficient to make universal access to quality care a reality, not just theory. We can catch up with growing demand through increased investments in nursing workforce development and educational programs."

Also of note - more than three-fourths (78 percent) are worried that some day either they or someone they know might incur a health care cost that wouldn't be covered by their health insurance.

The telephone survey was conducted from Sept. 4-7, 2009 by Woelfel Research, Inc. The RDD sample consists of 1,001 United States residents at least 50 years old. The results from the study were weighted by age and gender. The margin of sampling error is ±3.1 percent.

The executive summary of the polling is available on the AARP Web site.


Media Contacts:

Brenda Craine, AMA
(202) 789-7447

Drew Nannis, AARP
(202) 434-2560

Adam Sachs, ANA
(301) 628-5034