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Poll: NJ Voters Want a Fiscally Responsible Congress to Tackle True Health Care Concerns
Nine out of ten New Jersey voters said they agree with Representative Gottheimer’s approach

August 23, 2021 by Dan McCue
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. (Photo by Dan McCue)

Voters in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District, a traditional swing or battleground district nestled against the southeast portion of New York State, are united in many key respects when it comes to spending and health care reforms, a recent survey found.

Strong majorities want to see Congress act in a fiscally responsible manner, and they also want those who represent them in Washington to address their true concern about health care, namely their access to affordable coverage.

The survey was conducted in early August by Center Forward, a Washington-based group dedicated to finding common ground and pragmatic solutions to the challenges facing the American people, in partnership with Luce Research.

The effort is part of an ongoing analysis of voter sentiments on a variety of issues in select congressional districts that will extend through the fall.

Desiring a Fiscally Responsible Approach 

While voters identify the coronavirus and the economy/jobs as the most important issues that need to be addressed, they want policymakers to take a fiscally responsible approach when doing so. 

Nearly 60% (59%) believe that the federal government needs to spend responsibly to keep the national debt and inflation in check versus 37% who believe that the federal government should spend as much as it takes to help the post-pandemic economic recovery.

Hispanic voters are more supportive of a fiscally-responsible approach than other groups (74%). 

Voters in the district prioritize federal spending rebuilding roads, bridges and other traditional infrastructure (48%) and reforming health care (33%). 

Forty-Seven percent of younger voters (18-24) identify health care reform as the top priority, while only 12% of seniors (65+) want health care to be the top priority.

Reduce the Overall Cost of Health Care

Three-in-four voters in the district would prefer Congress focus on reducing the overall costs of health care rather than focusing solely on one portion of the industry.  

When focusing on health care specifically, voters identified out-of-pocket costs not covered by insurance (34%) and the cost of health insurance premiums (15%) as their top two issues. 

Roughly 74% say Congress should focus on reducing the overall costs of health care such as premiums, deductibles and copays and 21% say that Congress should focus more on reducing the costs of prescription drugs. 

Protect Medicare’s Promise to Seniors 

As policymakers in Washington consider changes to Medicare, voters in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District reaffirmed their support for this successful government program. 

Nine out of ten voters said they agree with Rep. Josh Gottheimer that “our nation made an intergenerational promise to our seniors–a promise that they will have access to the health care [they] need in [their] golden years.”

When voters learned about proposals to eliminate the non-interference clause in Medicare, a provision that protects market competition and patient access by prohibiting the government from interfering in negotiations among insurers, drug manufacturers, and pharmacies, respondents overwhelmingly said these protections need to be maintained.

Eighty percent (80%) agreed that the federal government shouldn’t be interfering with what medicines are available to people with Medicare and that there are better ways to lower what seniors pay for medicine.

Seventy-five percent (75%) agreed the law is needed because it protects all from government discrimination.

Advance Bipartisan and Pragmatic Policies 

Instead, voters want pragmatic policies that will lower the cost of health care. Ninety percent (90%) agree health legislation Congress pursues should make patient affordability the number one goal, whether it’s the cost of premiums and co-pays, price of medicines, or expense of care.

There is widespread support for policies that address cost: 

  • 96% support ensuring more predictability in health care so that people know how much they will pay for things like prescription drugs every month;
  • 93% support reducing what patients spend for their prescription medicines at the pharmacy counter, while ensuring continued public-private collaboration to develop life saving drugs and treatments;
  • 93% support requiring health insurance companies and hospitals to pass along to patients more of the discounts on prescription medicines they negotiate with pharmaceutical companies;
  • 91% support ensuring that deductibles are lower and more affordable so that insurance kicks in earlier when you need to use it;
  • 89% support requiring Medicare Part D insurance plans to set a maximum limit for what seniors pay out of pocket for prescription medicines annually;
  • 87% support placing a cap on the amount health insurers can make patients pay out-of-pocket for their deductibles, copays and other out-of-pocket costs.

Black voters were especially receptive to these policy proposals, with 99% and 100% supporting ensuring more predictability and reducing out-of-pocket expenses while ensuring continued public-private collaboration, respectively.

Moreover, 92% agreed that members of Congress should work together, “regardless of political party … to improve healthcare.” 

Nearly all women (96%) and Black voters (100%) agreed that a bipartisan solution is needed.

Protect and Foster Innovation 

The life sciences and pharmaceutical industries have long been a cornerstone of the New Jersey economy, so much so that the Health Care Institute of New Jersey proudly calls the state the “Medicine Chest of the World.”

The institute notes on its website that New Jersey’s “vibrant life sciences community – biopharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical technology, diagnostic and consumer products companies, the thousands of local businesses in their supply chain and leading research institutes – has made endless contributions to advancing human health and has been a pillar of our state’s economy and communities for 135 years.”

Not surprisingly, the voters in the district are justly proud of that history of innovation and the recent role pharmaceutical companies have played in responding to the pandemic.

  • 94% believe it’s important to encourage competition among drug manufacturers that ensures continued R&D, makes drugs more affordable, and increases access for patients who need them;
  • 92% believe it’s important to create incentives to ensure continued innovation and research to further the development of life-saving medicines for rare diseases, including cancers, Alzheimer’s, ALS, and rare disorders;
  • 92% believe it’s important to “encourage more investment in research and development for cures… and grow the talent pipeline for life sciences jobs in New Jersey through training partnerships and apprenticeships.” This is the top priority for young voters 18-24 (97%);
  • 83% believe it’s important to preserve our invaluable innovation ecosystem so that it can continue to prevent and treat disease. This is the top priority for Black voters (97%);
  • 83% agree we need to make reforms, but also need to “ensure that life sciences companies continue to invest … so that they keep making the bets on moon-shot drugs, that, without those investments, might not save lives like they do today.”

Since the early 1990s, the L-shaped 5th Congressional District has comprised the rural northern and western parts of New Jersey, but after redistricting in 2011, it also gained suburban and urban portions of Bergen County directly across the Hudson River from New York City.

Currently, the district encompasses suburban northern Bergen County, as well as the central urban portion of the county, such as Hackensack.

The geographical changes have wrought political changes as well. While the western part of the district remains one of the most Republican favorable areas in the Northeast, the influence of its voters has been largely offset by Bergen County’s overwhelming preference for Democrats.

Partly due to his strong performance in Bergen County, Democrat Josh Gottheimer was able to unseat 14-year Republican incumbent Scott Garrett in 2016. The outcome was a shocker, as Garrett was the only one of the state’s 12 incumbents to lose his reelection bid that year.

Gottheimer has served the district in Congress ever since, and become one of its most prominent and influential centrists, particularly through his being co-chair of the House Problem Solvers Caucus.

About The Poll 

The poll was conducted by telephone (both landline and cell phones) between August 2-6 with a sample size of 400 likely 2022 voters in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District with a margin of error of +/- 5% at the 95% confidence level. The poll was conducted in partnership with Luce Research.

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