Straight, No Chaser In The News: Presidential Candidates’ Views, Public Opinion and the Future of Obamacare

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Let’s go off the grid and take a look at the intersection of Presidential politics, health care and public health. Of the three remaining Presidential candidates, each has a distinct point of view regarding the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare).

  • Hillary Clinton generally says she would keep the ACA in place.
  • Bernie Sanders calls for replacing the ACA with a single-payer, federally administered system: “Medicare for All.”
  • Donald Trump has said he would repeal the ACA.

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Approximately two weeks ago, Gallup polled Americans on these thoughts without identifying the Presidential candidate associated with the viewpoint. Consistent with past findings, the majority of US citizens support the idea of a fully federally funded healthcare system. Here’s the breakdown of those individual views.

  • 58% favor replacing the ACA with federally funded healthcare system;
  • About half would also be ok with keeping the ACA as is; and
  • Just over half would favor repealing the ACA. However, only 22% of Americans say they want the ACA repealed outright; those favoring repeal largely favor replacing it with a federally funded system such as the even more liberal “Medical for All” option.

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The partisan division of reactions to these proposals by partisanship shows the expected patterns: Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are highly likely to favor the two governmental options (retain the ACA or move to “Medicare for All”), while Republicans and Republican leaners are highly likely to favor repeal of the ACA.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign stop, Wednesday, March 30, 2016, in Appleton, Wis. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Historically, when given a choice, Americans are philosophically more inclined to favor a private healthcare system than one run by the government. Americans are generally satisfied with their personal healthcare. Unfortunately in this example the mere statistics have never told the complete story. Even with a 90% satisfaction level, that leaves over 30 million Americans completely without healthcare and inclined to be completely dissatisfied. Here in this life or death paradigm, the “majority rules” consideration just isn’t enough to overlook the needs of the minority.

It will be interesting to see how the debate is framed as things move forward. In the meantime, it is also of interest to also note that in the news is the drop of the uninsured in the US to single digits for the first time in generations.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

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