On Monday, we began a unique experiment: I began forecasting five top values issues that will define 2012—and I invited you to help shape our overall conclusions. So far, I predicted on Monday that the economy will dominate, followed by a related issue: the enormous wealth gap in our nation.
Here is my forecast of Number Three in the national limelight: Health care, especially attempts to repeal all or part of the healthcare reforms that were signed into law last year. There are two key events that will drive attention to this issue. The first is this—the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case that considers four key elements of what opponents of these reforms derisively call “Obamacare.” The most important element is the individual mandate: the requirement that people must get healthcare insurance two years from now. The high court will consider whether this provision is constitutional or not. Opponents say it is not, and that the federal government has overstepped its constitutional limits.
The second event is the November elections. If Republicans secure control of both houses of Congress and the White House, it’s likely that new legislation will overturn the entire health care package. This is one reasons that this year’s elections are so critical.
How much do voters really care about healthcare? A lot, according to the same Rasmussen Reports poll I cited on Monday. The economy is the number one issue that likely voters say is very important to them, but healthcare is second. Two-thirds of likely voters rate this as a very important issue.
Whatever happens regarding these specific healthcare laws, there is no doubt that fundamental reform was and is necessary. Health outcomes in our country compare quite unfavorably with other high-income countries. Consider, for example, a key result of a Commonwealth Fund Study reported this month by the American Public Health Association. “Sicker adults in the United States had the highest rates of reported problems paying medical bills and forgoing needed care because of cost. In the study, 42 percent of U.S. adults reported not visiting a doctor, not filling a prescription or skipping medication doses or not getting recommended care. That was a significantly higher proportion than in all the other countries studied and more than double the rates in Canada, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In addition to being most likely to face financial difficulty with care, U.S. patients also had among the highest rates of self-reported medication, lab or medical errors as well as gaps in care coordination.”
Is healthcare a very important issue for you this year?
Will it be one of the top five values issues through 2012?
What other issues belong on our list?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.