Concerns about health care are, by a large margin, the top domestic policy issue U.S. voters identified as they enter 2018.

The proportion of Americans citing healthcare as the top public agenda priority grew by 50% since 2016, from 31% two years ago to 48%.

Taxes rank #2 this year, garnering 31% of Americans’ concerned, followed by immigration, which has remained flat cited by about one-in-four Americans.

The Associated Press (AP)-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research polled 1,444 U.S. adults 18 and over between November 30 and December 4, 2017 for this survey.

While one-half of Americans would like the Federal government to address healthcare in 2018, most people lack confidence in legislators’ ability to deal with this issue this year.

While most Democrats (54%) called healthcare the top policy issue for 2018, and a plurality of Independents as well (46%), the largest plurality of Republicans, 42% noted immigration as the #1 policy priority — just one point above the 41% of Republicans calling out healthcare as a top agenda item.

While one-half of Americans, overall, feel optimistic about the way things are going in their local communities, two-thirds of people are pessimistic about the state of politics in the U.S. Roughly one-half of Americans are pessimistic about the nation’s role as a global leader in  the world, our system of government and how well it works, the way  leaders are chosen under the U.S. political system, and the way things are going in the U.S.

Across parties, Americans’ belief in the nation heading in the right direction is eroding. The two-thirds of Republicans seeing the country moving in the right direction fell to 54%, 48% of Independents dropped to 23%, and 22% of Democrats, down to 10%.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  The GOP-driven tax bill, signed into law by President Trump just before departing for the 2017 holiday break, was unpopular across the three political party affiliations. While the U.S. macroeconomy — jobs numbers, interest rates, corporate earnings — has received positive headlines in the Wall Street Journal and business media, on Main Street and in rural America, consumers haven’t been nearly as excited about prospects for their personal home microeconomics.

The AP-NORC survey found that most Americans do not perceive an improved economy for themselves or the country as a whole. Fewer than 1 in 4 people said they were better off; 3 in 10 Americans noted they were worse off by late 2017.

As healthcare costs and health policy continue to be top-of-mind for U.S. health citizens, watch this policy priority to heat up among the electorate as America’s mid-term elections approach in 2018. Senator Mitch McConnell has said that healthcare would take a lower position in Congress’s policy priorities in 2018. Other Republicans want to revisit entitlement reform — shorthand for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Note that Paul Ryan has called Medicare, “the biggest entitlement that’s got to have reform.”

It’s not just consumer-voters that are keen to address healthcare reform, and especially healthcare costs. See this editorial written by Rick Pollack of the American Hospital Association and Marilyn Tavenner who leads AHIP, the health insurance lobby – titled, When your medication costs more than your mortgage. You can expect more interesting and strange bedfellow pairings and collaborations in 2018 when it comes to advocating for various aspects of health/care reform.

Given the public’s healthcare priorities demonstrated in the AP-NORC poll, along with lobbyists’ interests, the GOP may wish to re-think their healthcare positions which will inevitably be featured in Democrats’ election ad tactics within a matter of months.