Currently, the U.S. reports some of the worst health outcomes while spending the most money on health care when compared to other developed countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In 2018, Americans took out $88 billion in debt to cover the cost of medical care and approximately 28.5 million individuals remained uninsured. Despite poor health outcomes across the country, health care reform is a highly controversial issue and has been for the last century. Historically, elites in the Republican party have aligned themselves with New Right political philosophies, which stand for a privatized health care system with minimal government involvement. Elites in the Democratic party have aligned with Pluralist political philosophies, which is an orientation that encourages government oversight to protect the health of its citizens. Recently there has been a rise in political polarization that has stemmed from the asymmetric movement of the Republican Party further to the right escalating the controversy around health care reform. In addition to growing polarization, recent studies have found that politicians are more responsive to the affluent classes while concurrently accumulating an influx of wealth. When neglecting to vote with the majority of their constituents, politicians have tried to change public opinion rather than address it. These short-term manipulation strategies have been found to confuse constituents more than mobilize them, contributing to the controversy around health care reform today. This project aims to understand how macro level structures affect public opinion on government funding of health care utilizing the thermostatic model and the works of Nicos Poulantzas and Michel Foucault as theoretical frameworks to understand how political structures influence public opinion and how political structures are shaped within Capitalistic societies. Specifically, the current study examines how the political leaning of Congress and the Presidency, total lobbying dollars contributed by the top five medical industries, and the number of health care bills passed per year affects public opinion on government funding of health care between 1986 and 2018. The data were accumulated from multiple sources including the General Social Survey, OpenSecrets.org, GovTrack.us, and the Senate, House, and White House websites. After completing bi-variate and multi-variate autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) models the only variable that was found to impact public opinion was the political party of the Presidency.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Campus-only Access)
Reiss, Jacquelyn, "Wealth Over Health? An Analysis of Macro-Level Factors That Influence Public Opinion on Health Care Policy" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6565.