The Health Care Debate Examined

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Health Care DebateHere is a story about the intersection of politics and health. With an election looming, a new study of 37 national polls has found that health care is the second-most important issue for 2012 voters. That’s the highest it’s ranked in 20 years.

As the U.S. teeters toward an election, one in five people named “health care and Medicare” as the most important issue in their 2012 voting choice. The only one to rank higher was the issue of the economy and jobs, which tends to dominate voters’ thinking. Experts say, when the election is close, where someone stands on health care could shift them into office.

On the heels of well over two years of heated debate, the American public hasn’t changed its view: there is a very mixed opinion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since the law was passed, the majority of Americans has not approved of the ACA. An average of current polls shows that 44% approve of the ACA, and 45% disapprove. But, the people who believe health care is the most important election issue tended to be far more supportive of the ACA.

The new report also looked at the issue of changing future Medicare to a point where the government provides seniors with a fixed sum of money they could use to purchase either private health insurance or Medicare coverage. To this idea, 66% of the polled public said they are against this. It appears that, across the board, the general public is not in favor of changing the current Medicare system.

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The results suggest that health care voters are siding with President Obama on the ACA and Medicare issues in the election.

Another factor that may influence election outcomes for incumbent presidents is the public’s assessment of their record. In this case, it is President Obama’s record on health care during his term. His approval rating on handling health care is 41%, with 52% disapproving. Has there been progress? Polls show that the majority of Americans believe the problem of health care costs in the U.S. has worsened during the past five years (65%). Only 27% see quality of care as having improved, although about equally few (25%) think it has worsened.

These statistics come despite the historic health care legislation that President Obama helped enact during his time in office thus far. Still, the public remains quite mixed in their views about his performance on health care.

Since we are the public, Doctors Health Press thought this might be an interesting story to report on. We all want a strong health care system, and a healthier America at large. We need to make sure anyone trying to tackle the rising problems of diabetes, obesity, arthritis, and chronic diseases has the ability to do so.

Sources for Today’s Articles:
The Health Care Debate Examined
Blendon, RJ et al., “Understanding Health Care in the 2012 Election.” New England Journal of Medicine 2012; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsr1211472.