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Covering the Uninsured: Still Priority #1

Expanding coverage to the uninsured should be Congress's top health care policy priority for the next five years, say a majority of respondents to the latest Commonwealth Fund Health Care Opinion Leaders survey—just as they said a year ago when asked about policy priorities. Leaders also agreed, once again, that one of the best ways to expand coverage would be to allow individuals and small businesses to buy into the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program or a similar federal group option.

A majority of the 251 respondents were hopeful about improving coverage, reporting that, with the right policy action, significant progress can be made in 10 years' time. For example, panelists believe that the percentage of adults under 65 without health insurance can and should be reduced from 18 percent—where it now stands—to just 5 percent.

Respondents consider increasing use of information technology to improve the quality and safety of care Congress's second-highest priority. And leaders think that enacting reforms to moderate rising health care costs should be the third priority on Congress's five-year to-do list.

The online survey of experts, representing a range of health care sectors and diverse perspectives, is the seventh in a series conducted for the Fund by Harris Interactive.

Accompanying the survey results are commentaries by former Senator John Breaux and former Congressman Bill Gradison.

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