As I leave for a brief vacation over the holiday, I wonder (as do most Americans) what’s going to happen to that impending fiscal cliff. Somehow, I reassure myself our divided congress will get this settled. But I am less complacent about the outcome for healthcare in the year and years to come. Just before I got on a plane, I glanced at the New England Journal of Medicine (my reading choices are not as literate as they should be) and came across a special report titled: “Implications of the 2012 Election for Health Care- The Voters’ Perspective.” So as we go into the new year, I thought it might be appropriate to share the results of this report with you…
Obama won! (Excuse the exclamation point.) We also now know how those who voted for him felt about health care. Here are the stats: Obama voters were three times as likely to say that healthcare was the most important problems facing the country as those who voted for Romney. Obama voters want the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obama care) implemented and not repealed. Obama voters want a more activist federal government intervening in the US healthcare system over the next four years. Seventy eight percent of Obama voters favor implementing or expanding the ACA and having the federal government continue its efforts to ensure that most Americans have health insurance coverage. And 85% of Obama voters support having the government try to fix the healthcare system, including 55% who believe that the federal government should have more responsibility than state governments for fixing it. And, (just a few more statistics) the majority of Obama voters upholds changing the structures of the current Medicare program ( 83%) and Medicaid program (78%). Finally 8 in 10 Obama voters believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
Yes, we live in a democracy but that doesn’t mean that what the majority of voters favor will, indeed, be accomplished. Thirty of the nation’s 50 states will have Republican governors in 2013, many of whom may not consider the establishment of state health insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion as their state’s mandate. It’s clear that this may become a contentious year for many reasons and healthcare may lead the “it’s not for us” list.
Meanwhile, back to the personal, each of us should do what we can to ensure our individual health. And I will try to continue to help you do this with timely information about prevention, diagnosis and health care innovations in the year to come.
I and my staff wish you a happy and healthy New Year!