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What Voters Really Want on Health Care

Michael Rainey
The nearly two dozen Democrats running for president are debating a variety of proposals for providing universal health care in the U.S., but voters seem to have a more basic issue on their mind: how to pay less for the drugs and medical services they need.The Washington Post’s Amy Goldstein says that although numerous surveys and polls show that health care is the top concern for voters, the primary problem they are worried about is their own personal cost, not system design or access. As a result, all the talk about large-scale proposals such as Medicare for All may be failing to connect with substantial portions of the public. For example, Bernie Sanders argues that his plan for a single-payer system would reduce health care spending at the national level by creating efficiencies, but voters aren’t as interested in the overall pattern and just want to know how his plan will lower their medical bills.Robert J. Blendon, a health policy expert at Harvard University, told Goldstein that, unlike 2008 or 2016, the 2020 election won’t be about the dynamics of universal coverage. Instead, the election is “going to be about the price of insulin, hospital charges and insurance premiums, with, ‘What are you going to do about them for me?’”Democratic strategists have taken note of the trend, and hope to use it against President Trump, who they say is vulnerable on the topic among white working-class voters. A recent survey by the Democratic research group American Bridge found that a majority of such voters in four battleground states gave Trump negative ratings on “reducing health care costs” and “taking on the drug and pharmaceutical companies,” Politico’s Scott Bland reports. American Bridge says it wants to weaken support for the president among some of some his most loyal followers, through a $50 million campaign focused on pocketbook issues, especially health care.Like what you're reading? Sign up for our free newsletter.

The nearly two dozen Democrats running for president are debating a variety of proposals for providing universal health care in the U.S., but voters seem to have a more basic issue on their mind: how to pay less for the drugs and medical services they need.

The Washington Post’s Amy Goldstein says that although numerous surveys and polls show that health care is the top concern for voters, the primary problem they are worried about is their own personal cost, not system design or access. As a result, all the talk about large-scale proposals such as Medicare for All may be failing to connect with substantial portions of the public. For example, Bernie Sanders argues that his plan for a single-payer system would reduce health care spending at the national level by creating efficiencies, but voters aren’t as interested in the overall pattern and just want to know how his plan will lower their medical bills.

Robert J. Blendon, a health policy expert at Harvard University, told Goldstein that, unlike 2008 or 2016, the 2020 election won’t be about the dynamics of universal coverage. Instead, the election is “going to be about the price of insulin, hospital charges and insurance premiums, with, ‘What are you going to do about them for me?’”

Democratic strategists have taken note of the trend, and hope to use it against President Trump, who they say is vulnerable on the topic among white working-class voters. A recent survey by the Democratic research group American Bridge found that a majority of such voters in four battleground states gave Trump negative ratings on “reducing health care costs” and “taking on the drug and pharmaceutical companies,” Politico’s Scott Bland reports. American Bridge says it wants to weaken support for the president among some of some his most loyal followers, through a $50 million campaign focused on pocketbook issues, especially health care.

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