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Iowa Health Reform Poll: Voters Want Broad Coverage of Licensed CAM in Basic Benefits PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Iowa Health Reform Poll: 68% of Voters Want Licensed CAM Professionals Covered in Basic Benefits

Summary: A broad-ranging survey on health reform topics by the Gilmore Research Group found that 68% of voters believe basic health care benefits should include coverage for any licensed health care professionals. Licensed professionals directly noted in the survey of 601 Iowa voters were "naturopathic physicians*, acupuncturists and chiropractors." The survey was commissioned by CodeBlueNow!, a national, non-partisan, not-for-profit citizen organization formed to build public consensus in health care policy. The Iowa population was strategically selected to have a maximum influence on the healthcare reform debate.
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citizen action, CAM, health reform, consumer, health policy
Kathleen O'Connor, founder and executive director, CodeBlueNow!
A recent poll of Iowa voters suggests that aspiring presidential candidates may be advised to talk to voters about their support of complementary and alternative medicine.
The poll, by Portland, Oregon-based Gilmore Research Group, found that 68% believe that basic healthcare benefits should include all licensed practitioners such as "naturopathic physicians*, acupuncturists and chiropractors."

The poll was commissioned by CodeBlueNow! a non-partisan, non-profit citizen organization which was formed "to build public consensus and find common ground on healthcare reform," according to a press release on the poll. Kathleen O'Connor, the organization's founder and executive director, calls the result "one of our more surprising findings."

O'Connor reflects: "Including these providers in basic benefits is clearly not just something that the 'left coast' of the United States is supporting. This is significant that an idea associated with the more typically liberal voting groups has this much acceptance in Iowa."


Iowa Voter Perceptions of the Importance of
Including Licensed CAM Practitioners
in Basic Benefits

"Note your level of agreement
or disagreement with
this statement ..."

Basic health benefits should include
coverage for any licensed health care
professional, such as naturopathic
physicians*, acupuncturists and
chiropractors, as long as they are
certified and licensed by the state
and by their profession.
 68% 19%


From survey by Gilmore Research Group for CodeBlueNow!, released October 9, 2007

health reform, citizen organization, public interestr, CAM, integrative medicine, health policy
Sponsoring the health reform survey


The very existence of a question on complementary and alternative medicine in a poll regarding health reform was unusual. The health reform debate in this political season is typically concerned almost entirely with financing issues. Should employers be required to offer benefits? Should there be a government-based single payer model? Little attention of either presidential candidates or elected officials has focused on changing the kind of care people receive.

O'Connor explained the inclusion by alluding to a 2003 contest which gave birth to CodeBlueNow! The contest offered a $10,000 award to the citizen who came up with the best healthcare proposal to help "Build an American Healthcare System." Recalls O'Connor: "This question emerged from our Build an American Health Care System contest. We see strong consumer interest. And here in Washington State, we even have the option of having naturopathic physicians as our primary care providers. Since we were on the West Coast, we wanted to see if these opinions held elsewhere."

Other Poll Findings

health reform, CAM,
50 years of survey experience
The Executive Summary of the Gilmore report states simply that at least 2/3 of respondents agreed that "basic health care benefits should include coverage for any licensed health care professionals (68%) like naturopathic physicians*, acupuncturists, midwives and massage (therapists)." Over 2/3 of respondents also agreed with the following:

  • Health care professionals should provide information on treatment costs and benefits to allow patients to make good choices (84%)
  • Like public utilities, there should be public reporting and accountability for where money comes from as well as how and why it is spent (75%)
  • There needs to be uniform standards or guidelines for health care that professionals should use (74%)
  • Every American should have affordable access to health care services they need (71%)
  • Health care services should stress prevention over high-tech cures (69%)

O'Connor told the Integrator that the other significant surprise was the "lack of polarization" on strategies for healthcare reform. She clarified that the poll found that on many key questions there was "always a good group of 25%-30% of people who haven't made up their minds on the best strategy, but they agree something needs to be done." She adds that those interviewed "are just hard-working people who want a system that works. They feel that everybody has to be covered."

CodeBlueNow! boasts an honorary board which includes 4 former governors, Richard Lamm (D-CO), Booth Gardner (D-WA), Arne Carlson (R-MN) and John Kitzhaber, MD (D-OR). Carlson, commenting on the results of the Gilmore survey, states: "The people of Iowa have spoken. They want accountability, choice and are open to a range of options on how to pay for health care."

The poll commissioned by CodeBlueNow! from the Gilmore Research Group was a survey via household telephone of 601 randomly selected registered voters in Iowa conducted between August 23 and September 13, 2007. The average survey lasted just under 14 minutes. The maximum margin of error for a survey of this size is ± 4.0 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence. Detailed information on the survey is in this PDF file at the CodeBlueNow! site.

(*) Gilmore Research's original reports on the poll used the term "naturopaths" instead of "naturopathic physicians," which is what I initially reported. I was subsequently informed that the original poll language used "naturopathic physicians" and that Gilmore had erred in reporting this as "naturopaths."

Disclosure: I recently became a member of the CodeBlueNow! board of directors.

Comment:  The finding surprised me. An imbalance in the survey population between female (57%) and male (43%) may partially explain the support of natural healthcare services. Surveys on complementary and alternative healthcare use typically show greater interest in the the services of natural healthcare providers among those who are most responsible for managing individual and family healthcare. I have asked O'Connor to see if we can get a breakdown from Gilmore on this question, based on the many demographic categories for which Gilmore captured data. Hopefully, a more detailed Integrator report will be forthcoming.

I would be remiss in failing to note that there is much more of interest in this poll. Take a look at the results. I am pleased to be part of an organization which is actually tracking whether options in the care people receive should be part of the "reform" of our medical sector. When will a politician or political leader actually give us an imaginative and forward-thinking proposal that includes heavy investment in health creation?

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