Health usage declines

It’s like your mother always told you: Your health is the most important thing.

No, it isn’t. Not any more. According to the third survey of Mid-Hudson residents’ priorities in the past decade, economic issues continue to rank higher. Most people think making ends meet is even more important than easier access to affordable health care, Marist pollster Lee Miringoff told a Monday morning press conference in Poughkeepsie. The finding was established in an exhaustive survey of regional public opinion called “Many Voices One Valley 2012” sponsored by the Dyson Foundation.

The leading concern for residents this year is keeping businesses in the area, which barely edged out job creation for first place. While business retention had been in second place after the affordability of health care in the 2007 version of the survey, job creation jumped from sixth place five years ago to second place this year.

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Quality of schooling, which was in fourth place 10 years ago and second place five years ago, held a third place position this year in the region. Affordable health care, the third most important concern a decade ago and the top concern in 2007, finished fourth in the 2012 update. In fifth place was the provision of services to seniors.

For this year’s effort the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion interviewed more than 4,400 residents by landline telephone and cell phone. The large number of respondents provides a degree of reliability of result (the margin of error was plus or minus 1.5 percent) that easily surpasses the reliability of each or all the current national presidential polls. The polling, conducted in February and early March, included interviews averaging 22 minutes in length with residents of seven counties: Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Ulster and Sullivan.

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