This study extends the literature on policy feedback and explores the extent to which public attitudes reflect learning from past government initiatives. We analyze the ways in which feedback mechanisms affecting public attitudes may differ from those earlier identified in the literature. We apply this general analytic framework to help explain variation in public attitudes toward private employer involvement in health care, explore possible causal pathways, and offer some preliminary empirical tests of these hypotheses. There are different levels of public support for the notion of employer obligation involving medical care, long-term care, and the treatment of substance abuse. Our evidence suggests that lessons about the performance of institutions in each of these policy domains represent the most important effect of existing policy on public attitudes. Furthermore, these differences correspond to what one would expect based on our model of policy feedback and cannot be explained by other plausible sources of policy legitimacy.

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