The vast majority of Americans favor lowering the cost of prescriptions, keeping the Affordable Care Act’s provisions to cover pre-existing conditions, lower overall medical costs, and protect people from surprise medical bills, according to the KFF Health Tracking Poll – September 2019: Health Care Policy In Congress And On The Campaign Trail.
The big headline in this poll following last night’s third Democratic Presidential debate is that 55% of Democrats and Democrat-leaning Independent voters prefer a candidate that will build on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) versus a President that would replace the ACA with a Medicare For All plan (M4A).
This finding is bolstered with the survey finding that overall favorability of the ACA is the highest it’s been since KFF began to measure it in nine years of polling this question. This survey found the share of Democrats with favorable views of the ACA increased by 11 percentage points while President Trump moved into the White House.
As we’d expect, there are partisan differences across which of these priorities shown in the first graph are favored by Democrats, Republicans and Independents. There is partisan favor for lowering prescription drug costs across all party majorities, as well as maintaining ACA provisions for pre-existing conditions and lowering overall health care costs. Repealing and replacing the ACA is favored by 46% of Republicans — so not even one-half of Republicans made getting rid of the ACA a priority.
The second bar chart illustrates the tri-partisan concurrence supporting surprise medical bill legislation: overall, 8 in 10 U.S. adults support a law to ensure against surprise bills, including 84% of Democrats, 78% of Independents, and 71% of Republicans.
It seems that getting surprised by medical costs brings Americans together across political party ID.
But there’s no singing “Come Together” on what health care issues partisans believe Congress should work on — specifically, between the issues of expanding health insurance coverage versus lowering health care costs. Congress working on expanding coverage is a priority for 68% of Democrats. In contrast, most Republicans, 76%, want Congress to work on lowering the amount people pay for health premiums, deductibles, and prescription drugs.
There’s another major finding the Democratic Presidential candidates should keep in mind: only 14% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents would only vote for a candidate who would replace the ACA with Medicare for All.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: The level of uninsured in America rose to 9.1% in 2019. Two-thirds of the insured had private/commercial plans: just over one-half of Americans had employment-based insurance, 10% purchased directly. One-third of covered Americans had public plans from Medicare (18%), Medicaid (17.3%), with 1% on a VA plan.
These updated numbers come out of the report, Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2018 from the U.S. Census Bureau, published this week. The line chart tracks the uninsured rate in the U.S., indicating a slight uptick in the past two years.
With the erosion of health insurance coverage in process under the Trump Administration, covered Americans’ top health care policy priorities — ensuring coverage of pre-existing conditions, ending surprise medical bills, and lowering the cost of prescription drugs — have received attention from some policymakers…and industry lobbyists.
For example, big investors who back health care companies are investing their “advocacy” dollars to fend off surprise bill legislation. Remember: one stakeholder’s revenue in the healthcare ecosystem is another player’s cost (the latter, increasingly, being the patient-as-payor). “As lobbyists purporting to represent doctors and hospitals fight the proposals, it has become increasingly clear that the force behind the multimillion-dollar crusade is not only medical professionals, but also investors in private equity and venture capital firms,” Kaiser Health News reported this week.
To further explain this phenomenon and political reality, here is The Hill’s analysis of “pushback” to what was bipartisan-supported legislation to stem surprise bills just as Congress split Washington, DC, for August recess.
Even with majority bi/tri-partisan support for health policies like preventing surprise medical bills, covering pre-existing conditions, and lowering the cost of medicines, there remain major barriers to granting the Will of the People as health citizens. The financial influence of lobbyists, the Senate Majority Leader’s “grim reaper” position on considering virtually any legislation that the House passes, and special interests across health care stakeholders guarding their piece of the healthcare payment pie, together conspire against giving people what they say they want.
This, as more Americans lose access to health insurance, health care costs continue to rise, and patients self-ration care due to costs.