As the midterm elections are right around the corner, healthcare is on the minds of many; politicians and voters alike. The news cycle this week is marred with a slew of “he said, she said” pieces, Republicans pointing condemning fingers at the policies of Democrats and vice versa. The question is not “why healthcare”, however, but “what about healthcare” is topping the list of grievances–as almost 20 percent of the nation’s GDP it’s guaranteed to cause some ripples.
Medicare continues to be at the forefront of heated debates, this information should not come as too much of a surprise considering how quickly funds are draining. A study from the program trustees estimated Medicare will become insolvent by 2026–much earlier than it was expected to.
The main Republican rebuttal to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ famed Medicare for All proposal is that it is unreasonably expensive, depleting Medicare dollars far too soon. Democrats instead have been fighting back, stating that the Republican plan will have little consideration for those with pre-existing conditions.
Ensuring protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions has been a pillar of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act (ACA) campaign and it is a protection that would vanish with the repeal of the ACA (a current Republican crusade). The GOP is arguing that pre-existing conditions will be protected and the Democrat agenda would be bad news for seniors, jeopardizing their ability to get coverage. For more on the validity of this argument check out NPR’s in-depth piece.
Strategically, Medicare is a hot topic simply due to voter demographics. In the presidential election over 70 percent of voters aged 65 or older showed up to cast a ballot, those are staggering numbers compared to the 46 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds that bothered to show up. In other words, it is the midterm elections and politicians want to grab the attention of the voters who have historically consistently shown up to actually cast a vote.
The Republican majority seems to depend on the senior vote, a population that has typically leaned to the right.
In Arizona particularly, the debate on pre-existing conditions are heating up as Dem. candidate Kyrsten Sinema has attacked opponent Rep. Martha McSally for voting toward the House GOP healthcare bill which weakened protection for pre-existing conditions by allowing states to opt-out of many ACA mandates. Earlier this month, McSally and Sinema faced off in their only debate where McSally argued the lack of choice Arizonians have in the ACA exchanges. Sinema however, has not relented in her fight against McSally’s defense for the widely unpopular American Health Care Act (AHCA), during the debate Sinema said:
“The reality is that Arizonans are worried about losing access to this critical coverage, and Martha voted to take that protection away.”
McSally even made a comment on Sean Hannity’s radio show last week about the legislation saying, “…I’m getting my a– kicked for it right now because it’s being misconstrued by the Democrats,” she continued with, “They’re trying to, you know, invoke fear in people who have family members or loved ones with preexisting conditions.”
What all parties are guilty of this election season is misleading claims. Fact-checkers have been working around the clock to confirm statements from both sides of the spectrum. In an advertisement, McSally claimed she is “leading the fight” in forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. Cue laughter from the Obama administration. Sinema’s attacks were not all completely accurate either, the AHCA would not do away with coverage for pre-existing conditions but just make them more expensive–both not favorable situations for those with conditions such as cancer or diabetes.
Nov. 6 is next week and although it seems candidates are sticking to their party when it comes to healthcare policy, the only way to find out which legislation is favored is to see how the race pans out.
Check out NPR’s coverage on Republican scare tactics.
For more on pre-existing conditions check out this piece by azcentral.