March 23, 2017


Still Searching

In a democracy, the policy agenda should reflect the public's needs, concerns and aspirations. As elaborated in our recent report, The Fix We're In, the lack of economic opportunity and political equality are driving concerns for many people these days. If inadequately addressed, we believe, our already fraying social contract could shred to pieces in the years ahead and our democracy itself could be in danger.

In the hurly-burly of their lives, people often feel the brunt of diminished opportunity when life's essentials, such as housing, education and health care, become unaffordable. That's why all of these issues are on our agenda at Public Agenda, and why we're pleased to alert you to the upcoming release of our new research to inform the policy debate on how to contain the costs of health care for individuals and families.

Our new report, "Still Searching," explores how people use health care price information and whether people manage to save money when they find out how much their care will cost them. "Still Searching" follows up on our 2015 research  about how Americans seek and use health care price information, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This time around, we surveyed Americans nationwide as well as representative samples of Texans, Floridians, and New York State and New Hampshire residents.  Although online health care price information tools are proliferating, our research explores the broad range of ways in which people try to find out how much their care will cost, from calling their insurers to asking a receptionist or nurse.
We hope you'll look for this research and put it to good use. One opportunity to learn more about it is to join us in New York City on April 6 as we release this report with a panel discussion about health care price transparency, cohosted by our funders the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New York State Health Foundation. As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts.


Will's headshot  

Will Friedman

New from Public Agenda

At the outset of this month, Matt Leighninger, Director of Public Engagement, wrote about how government must go beyond what citizens want and get to what they can contribute in Zócalo Public Square. Public Agenda research conducted with the National  Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) was included in a recent paper on the Federal Work-Study ProgramAlison Kadlec, Director of Higher Education & Workforce Engagement commented on findings from a recent survey of college presidents conducted by Inside Higher Ed


The Fix We're In: What Americans Have to Say About Opportunity, Inequality and the System They Feel Is Failing Them
Read about conversations we held with folks from small and large cities, including San Diego, Cincinnati, the greater metro area of New York and numerous points in between.

Success Is What Counts: A Community College Guide to Community Engagement & Strategic Partnerships
This guide outlines principles of effective engagement, and provides tools and resources to support effective broad-based community engagement practices. 

This white paper examines the extent to which PB employs deliberative principles and processes, explores the challenges in making PB more deliberative and provides recommendations for public officials and practitioners looking to improve their PB processes.

PB in the U.S. and Canada differs in many ways from PB in Brazil, where it has had many social impacts. This white paper explores these differences and how they may affect PB's impact in North America. It also provides a series of practical recommendations for practitioners and policymakers to strengthen PB's ability to reduce inequality.

From the Blog

College presidents don't think people have an accurate view of the purpose of higher ed. But is that why prospective students are holding back? Ultimately, colleges and universities can't count on being given the benefit of the doubt under conditions of mistrust and anxiety. 

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Do cities need a political movement? A look at America's two-track economy and a chart of median single-family home prices by president. A conversation about who needs college and why. There's no for health care - but there ought to be. 


Public Agenda helps build a democracy that works for everyone. By elevating a diversity of voices, forging common ground, and improving dialogue and collaboration among leaders and communities, Public Agenda fuels progress on critical issues, including education, health care and community engagement. Founded in 1975, Public Agenda is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in New York City. Find Public Agenda online at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at @PublicAgenda.

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