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Bankole: Health care drives midterm interest

Bankole Thompson

We often brag about the ingenuity of this nation and its greatness, its riches, and global status as the leading superpower. 

But the paradox of this greatness is that we also live in a nation where access to the best health care is predicated on how much is in your pocket. Basically, your socioeconomic background and condition will determine the care you get, and how soon you can see a doctor. 

That should not happen. But that is the reality of life for many people who are not able to afford what is generally referred to as the Cadillac insurance plan. And until the arrival of the Affordable Care Act, despite its imperfections, a lot of people, especially the working poor, have been suffering with lack of access to meaningful care.

Many who are outside the economic bracket that can guarantee proper care embraced the ACA because of its coverage of pre-existing conditions. They are Democrats, Republicans, independents and everyday people, who are tired of being lied to by politicians who make empty promises about easing their visits to the emergency room.

Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer and Republican Bill Schuette, talk before their second debate, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018 in Detroit.

And in this coming election, that class of folks who have been saved by the ACA and its pre-existing condition mandate are speaking out. A Pew Research survey this month revealed that health care is driving voter enthusiasm in the midterms. According to the study, 6 in 10 people believe that it is the federal government’s responsibility to ensure coverage.

This is why the expansion of Medicaid under outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has been so popular. And it also explains why Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic candidate for governor, has been gaining a lot of traction with voters. She has long supported expanding the ACA, while her Republican opponent Bill Schuette filed lawsuits against the health law.

In fact, Whitmer, has made it a point at every campaign stop to remind voters that Schuette filed up to nine lawsuits against the ACA. And Schuette, the attorney general, has been struggling to explain his way out of those suits and trying to reckon with that decision. 

During their last debate, Schuette couldn’t give any cogent or convincing answer as to why he split with his own governor on the ACA. 

It is difficult to make the case that you care about the well-being of voters when you’ve spent resources in the past challenging the constitutionality of a popular health program that mandates the kind of access to care that voters depend on to survive.  

Thousands of Michiganians are benefiting from Medicaid expansion due to the ACA. 

The political reckoning taking place in Michigan as it relates to health care is happening all over the nation. Politicians who were vehemently opposed to coverage of pre-existing conditions are now forced to explain themselves to their constituents. Some of the candidates are engaging in outright lies about their earlier stances to deceive voters, and others are simply been called out by angry voters at town halls.

Pew Research also noted that a majority of Republicans -- about 55 percent -- say the government “should continue programs like Medicare and Medicaid for seniors and the very poor.”

People care about their health. But even those in the medical community recognize the need to ensure that care is affordable. 

When Congress last year started posturing and attempting to rewrite the ACA, the American Medical Association sent a letter to congressional leaders warning them to walk a fine line on the issue.

“Health system reform is an ongoing quest for improvement. The AMA supported passage of the Affordable Care Act because it was a significant improvement on the status quo at that time. We continue to embrace the primary goal of that law—to make high quality, affordable health care coverage accessible to all Americans,” the group’s CEO Dr. James L. Madara wrote. “We also recognize that the ACA is imperfect and there a number of issues that need to be addressed. As such, we welcome proposals, consistent with the policies of our House of Delegates, to make coverage more affordable, provide greater choice, and increase the number of those insured.”


Twitter: @BankoleDetNews

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