Addressing the U.S. Economy is Job 1, 2 and 3 for the next President, according to the latest and last Kaiser Family Foundation poll on American voters’ priorities (Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, Issue 11, October 2008).

2 in 3 Americans say, far and away, the key issue for Messrs. McCain and Obama to talk about is The Economy.

The underlying headline here is that the War and health care tie for a distant second place in voters’ minds.

But wait! There’s more on health care to consider.

Given the economic straits of the U.S., more than 6 in 10 voters say that that we must taken on health reform in this climate. One-third believe it’s not the time to do so.

KFF points out that health care is an integral component of the economy, with 1 in 5 dollars in the GDP allocated to health care. A majority of American voters finally understand the connection between the health economy and the larger macroeconomy of the U.S. — both conceptually and through their own pocketbooks.

The latter is confirmed by KFF’s data point that more Americans, 32%, say they have had trouble paying medical bills over the past 12 months. Furthermore, 36% of Americans say they’ve put off or postponed getting health care they need due to cost.

Democrats and Independents are far keener on addressing health reform in this next Presidential term than Republicans — although 4 in 10 Republicans agree with those across the aisle from them on health reform action sooner rather than later.

Gas prices have dropped out of the top 4 issues. According to this morning’s USA Today, gas prices per gallon have dropped close to their levels one year ago, and make fall to $2.80 by Halloween (a nice treat…but watch for OPEC to decrease supplies, causing the price to increase once again…resulting in trick instead of treat…but the blogger doth digress…).

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Congratulations, voters! You’re connecting the dots between the U.S. economy and our dysfunctional health system. Now that you recognize the challenge, let’s start the hard work of health reform. The bulk of Democrats and Independents are very keen to meet this challenge. The outcome of November 4 will set the stage for how, and whether, health reform gets addressed in the next 4 years.

Regular readers of Health Populi have kept up with the KFF Health ’08 polls and their implications. If you want to look back on the trends in these polls, here is a short-list…

For American Voters, it’s all about the economy, October 2, 2008

The economy is still the #1 issue for voters, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll; health care ranks #4 , August 20, 2008

What’s on Voters’ Minds: The Economy-War-Health Trifecta, April 22, 2008.

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