To many, health care is more important this election cycle than ever. It’s considered to be the second most important issue in the presidential election, topped only by the economy. In fact, it’s the most interest the issue has received since 1992, according to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
"The economy dominates most voters’ thinking in terms of their priorities for choosing a candidate,” says study co-author Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard School of Public Health. “But in a close election, the two candidates’ stands on health care issues could help swing the balance among some voters.”
Issue: Abortion and birth control
Issue: Nationwide reform
Obama: The president’s health reform law includes the expansion of Medicaid, but the Supreme Court ruled in June that the federal government can’t penalize states for refusing to do so. Nearly a dozen governors say they are considering not expanding their programs, and some might seek greater flexibility in return for participating.
Romney: Romney wants to replace the current Medicaid funding system, which gives the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services a considerable amount of control over states’ Medicaid programs, with a block grant program. The program would provide each state with an amount equal to what the state received from the federal government last year, plus an inflation adjustment, plus an additional 1 percent increase, he said.
Obama: The president rejects Republican proposals that would turn the government program into a voucher system. He says that the PPACA will rein in Medicare spending. The law is expected to reduce Medicare spending by $716 billion over 10 years by cutting back on payments to providers and Medicare Advantage plans. Most recent polling shows Obama and the Democrats have the edge on the Medicare debate.
Romney: He supports turning the program into a “premium support” program that would give seniors a fixed payment to buy private insurance or a government plan similar to what currently exists.