Commentary

Next Tuesday’s election: The latest referendum on America’s broken healthcare system

As Americans look anxiously ahead to next Tuesday and gaze intently into their political crystal balls at the different post-election scenarios that await the nation, one pattern continues to come into sharper relief: support and demand for a better healthcare system are stronger than ever.

Indeed, our healthcare system (and what politicians try to do or not do to it) has mattered greatly since the 90’s.

Bill Clinton’s attempt to reform our healthcare system, Barack Obama’s landmark passage of the Affordable Care Act and most recently Donald Trump’s failure to repeal and replace the ACA have all helped make healthcare a top priority for voters, even in the midst of various economic crises.

Even if one sets these past controversies aside, however, it’s no surprise that American voters are so concerned about the state of health and sickness in our country. We spend more per capita on healthcare than any other nation in the world, but have the worst healthcare outcomes out of any developed nation.

Countries with far smaller GDPs have significantly better health outcomes and greater access to care than we do.

Medical debt, the fear of a fall or a car accident, and delaying care to finally get that persistent backache or mysterious bump examined remain shamefully common phenomena in a country that boasts “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as unalienable rights in the constitution.

How can we pursue life without health? How can we be free with medical debt? How are we happy when ill?

Happily, even among conservatives who rage against supposed government overreach, the need for an expanded public healthcare system has become increasingly widely accepted.

For the first time in years, the latest polls show that a majority of Republicans (52%) support the “Medicare for all” solution. This represents a major shift in attitudes and beliefs towards the U.S. healthcare system, what is wrong with it and who should be responsible for fixing it.

And while Medicare for all is a lofty goal because of the massive transformation such a policy change would require, there is a realistic path to incrementally changing our dysfunctional and inefficient system immediately after this election: Medicaid expansion. Read more