Tuesday, December 22, 2015

qotd: Republicans and Democrats concerned about health care costs

December 21, 2015
Healthcare costs a top concern for Republican and Democratic voters
By Jilian Mincer and Erin McPike

Americans want to know what the next U.S. president will do to lower
their rising healthcare costs, a priority shared by Republican and
Democratic voters and second only to keeping the country safe, according
to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.

In all, 62 percent of people surveyed said they would want to know about
a presidential candidate's plan for reducing healthcare costs, according
to the online poll conducted Dec. 14-18.

While Republican and Democratic candidates are worlds apart on how to
address healthcare, poll results show roughly the same proportion of
Republican voters, or 62 percent, view it as a priority compared with 67
percent of Democrats, highlighting their frustration with rising drug
prices, insurance premiums and deductibles ahead of the 2016 vote.

The only topic that attracted more interest was national security, as 67
percent wanted to know more about how presidential candidates planned to
keep the country safe.

U.S. employers have been shifting more health coverage costs onto
workers, particularly through high deductible health insurance plans,
which can reach $6,600 in out of pocket costs for an individual and
$13,200 for a family before insurance kicks in. Many of these changes
have been ushered in with President Barack Obama's signature healthcare
law, as well as recent sharp increases in some prescription drug costs.

Republican strategists said party candidates are more focused on
national security and the economy as dominant issues, noting they have
little to gain by offering a detailed plan to tackle healthcare costs
that could run up against major business interests, including the
pharmaceutical industry.

"I'm on Obamacare, and it's a horrible situation," said Fred Voeltner,
64, who was laid off in 2009 and now pays for his own insurance. He is
frustrated by how far he has to travel for care and how much more he has
to pay each visit. "I'm open-minded," he said. "But I expect to vote for
a Republican."



Comment by Don McCanne

Unhappiness over the high costs of health care is not a partisan issue.
Both Republicans and Democrats want to know the presidential candidates'
proposals to lower health care costs - a priority almost as great as
their concern about national security.

Lest Democrats be smug over the introduction of the Affordable Care Act,
it is ACA's higher deductibles and narrower networks actually brought to
us by the Democrats that have further infuriated voters over runaway
health care costs.

Republicans keep promising us their replacement plan - the latest
promise being by House Speaker Paul Ryan - but they fail to deliver.
They actually prefer a "trust us" approach instead of providing
specifics, since their telegraphed preferences would worsen patient
affordability and access.

In the Reuters article, Fred Voeltner says that he is "frustrated by how
far he has to travel for care and how much more he has to pay each
visit" - consequences of narrow networks and high deductibles. But he is
"open-minded" and expects "to vote for a Republican." People are having
trouble giving the Democrats credit for reform when they can't see their
own doctor and can't pay their deductibles.

Democrats are now gathering around a candidate that would perpetuate our
highly flawed financing system. On the other hand, another candidate - a
democratic socialist running for the Democratic nomination - advocates
for an affordable model that is supported by a majority of Americans - a
single payer Medicare for all.

Unfortunately, presidential politics are complex. When you ask people
why they are supporting a given candidate, you will only rarely hear
single payer mentioned. Even though they want our next president to fix
the health care cost problem, the answers you will hear are meaningless
sound bites such as, he will "Make America Great Again." When final
ballots are cast, they will be based more on political personalities
rather than public policy.

This brings to mind a quote of Winston Churchill, "It has been said that
democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other
forms that have been tried from time to time." (House of Commons,
November 11, 1947).

Churchill also said, "At the bot­tom of all the trib­utes paid to
democ­racy is the lit­tle man, walk­ing into the lit­tle booth, with a
lit­tle pen­cil, mak­ing a lit­tle cross on a lit­tle bit of paper — no
amount of rhetoric or volu­mi­nous dis­cus­sion can pos­si­bly dimin­ish
the over­whelm­ing impor­tance of that point." (House of Com­mons,
Octo­ber 31, 1944)

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