Panel Urges Continued AZT Use in Pregnancy, Policy Review

March 1, 1997
Oncology NEWS International, Oncology NEWS International Vol 6 No 3, Volume 6, Issue 3

Survey Show Americans Favor Higher Tax WASHINGTON, DC--Americans strongly favor raising the federal excise tax on tobacco, and the majority want Congress to do something to provide health care coverage for the uninsured, according to two polls conducted for the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Survey Show Americans Favor Higher Tax WASHINGTON, DC--Americans stronglyfavor raising the federal excise tax on tobacco, and the majority wantCongress to do something to provide health care coverage for the uninsured,according to two polls conducted for the American Cancer Society (ACS).

The surveys also reveal that Americans are worried about the qualityof health care delivered by managed care organizations, especially in casesof serious illness. The ACS released a summary of the surveys at a briefingfor Capitol Hill staffers.

The polls found strong support across the political spectrum--from selfdescribed conservatives, moderates, and liberals--for upping the federaltobacco excise tax to help pay for various health endeavors.

These include paying for health care for all children who need it (73%);expanding health care coverage for children (58%); funding biomedical research,including cancer prevention and treatment (69%); and educating childrenand adolescents about the dangers of tobacco use (68%).

Tax Increase Could Save Lives

"Every 5¢ increase in the federal tobacco tax would yieldabout $3.5 billion in new revenue over seven years and save the lives ofabout 60,000 children and adults alive today," said Harmon J. Eyre,MD, the ACS' executive vice president for Research and Cancer Control.

Currently, the tobacco excise tax stands at 24¢ a pack. Congresslast raised it in 1993. Interestingly, in light of the tobacco money issueraised in the 1996 presidential campaign, 59% said they would not votein future elections for candidates who accepted contributions from thetobacco industry.

Penn & Schoen, Inc. conducted the two polls, one on Nov. 20 amongpeople who cast ballots in the presidential election, and the second onemonth later as a follow-up.

More than half of those polled (54%) said they were very concerned aboutthe rapid changes wrought in health care by managed care organizations,and 74% expressed concern about the quality of care they or a family memberwould receive from managed care plans if they were diagnosed with a seriousillness.

"This is clearly an issue Congress needs to think about,"Dr. Eyre said. "The federal government must play a key role if weare going to reduce cancer death rates and maintain quality care."

A Stronger Statement

Helene G. Brown, director of community applications of research at UCLA'sJonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and chair of ACS' Futures Initiative,put it a bit stronger.

"If those of you who work here in Washington haven't heard whatthe people are saying, then I think you really haven't been listening,"she told the congressional aides. "They are very, very, very angryabout managed care."

She said that people don't understand the need for a "middle man"in health care delivery or why managed care organizations "are makinga fortune while services decline and hospitals and doctors are paid less."