There’s always room for agreement — even in politically polarized times.

Large majorities of Democrats and Republicans believe nurses and healthcare aides are underpaid, while almost an identical number say doctors are overpaid, according to a study released Tuesday by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

There is a dramatic division along party lines on the issue of mask wearing and whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccination — 58% of Republicans and 15% of Democrats say they will definitely not get the shot, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation — but there is no partisanship on doctors’ pay: 36% of Democrats and 37% of Republicans say doctors are overpaid.


‘These findings provide some evidence that policies designed to improve pay for nurses and healthcare aides or lower the salaries of executives could be popular with both Democrats and Republicans.’

— Trevor Tompson, director of the AP-NORC Center

A majority of people surveyed support increased government funding for lowering out-of-pocket costs for patients (74%) and for extending government health-insurance coverage for low-income people (59%). However, Democrats are more supportive than Republicans.

“The results show the usual partisan divides when it comes to the Affordable Care Act and other major healthcare reform proposals, but highlight a bipartisan consensus around the pay of healthcare workers,” said Trevor Tompson, director of the AP-NORC Center.

“These findings provide some evidence that policies designed to improve pay for nurses and healthcare aides or lower the salaries of executives could be popular with both Democrats and Republicans,” he added.

Glimmer of hope on vaccination rates

But Americans remain entrenched along party lines on COVID-19 vaccines and masks. “Majorities of Republicans saying they ‘never’ wear a mask outdoors in crowded places, outdoors with friends and household members, at work, or in a grocery store,” according to the KFF survey released last week. “Democrats, on the other hand, are more likely to report wearing a mask in all of these locations, except when outdoors with household members and friends.”

“Partisanship also plays a major role with more than half (58%) of the ‘definitely not’ group identifying as Republican or Republican-leaning,” that report concluded, referring to people who say they will definitely not get a COVID-19 vaccine. White Evangelical Christians make up nearly double the share of the “definitely not” group (32%) as the “wait and see” group on vaccines, it found.

Still, a quarter of unvaccinated adults say they are likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year, the KFF survey found. This includes nearly half (45%) of people who consider themselves in the “wait and see” group of unvaccinated Americans.


On the issue of COVID vaccines, partisanship plays a major role with more than half of the ‘definitely not’ group identifying as Republican or Republican-leaning.

— Kaiser Family Foundation survey released last month

Approximately 99% of recent COVID-related deaths were among the unvaccinated, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last month. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said they accounted for over 97% of hospitalizations.

The vaccine from Johnson & Johnson unit 
JNJ,
-0.14%

Janssen is an adenovirus vector-based vaccine that only requires one shot. Clinical trials showed it had 72% efficacy in the U.S. (Despite this data, only 47% of adults in the KFF survey said they believed that this vaccine was safe vs. 72% for Pfizer and 68% for Moderna.)

The two-shot mRNA-based vaccines made by Pfizer 
PFE,
+4.47%

with German partner BioNTech SE 
BNTX,
-5.10%

and Moderna
MRNA,
-2.66%

make up the majority of shots administered in the U.S., with clinical data pointing to efficacy rates in the mid-90% range. Mayo Clinic research puts their “real world” effectiveness at closer to 88.7%.

Also read: As the more contagious delta variant circulates, public health experts say herd immunity has become an even more distant goal

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