Health is a key US election issue

The US election campaign has often resembled a bizarre reality TV show, but health remains an important political issue for many Americans.

Health is one of the top four issues for voters in the US election according to the respected Pew Research Centre.

Seventy four per cent of voters said healthcare was ‘very important’ to their vote on 8 November.

Among voters, Hilary Clinton has a clear advantage over Donald Trump as the “candidate who would do a better job of dealing with healthcare”.

Fifty four per cent said she would do a better job compared to Trump’s 37 per cent.

Hillary Clinton has a long history of activism on healthcare reform and has promised to defend and extend President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA – also commonly known as Obamacare).

She has also adopted a policy pushed by Bernie Sanders (who was her rival for the Democratic nomination) that would allow people to ‘buy into Medicare’.

Once Americans are 65, the federal government pays for most of their Medicare coverage although they do contribute out-of-pocket expenses and a monthly premium.

Clinton favours younger Americans “55 or 50 up” to buy into Medicare coverage voluntarily.

“I’m in favour of the public option so that people can buy into Medicare at a certain age,” she told Forbes magazine.

Trump has been susceptible to vague pronouncements on health such as: “I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”

Health commentator Dr Lesley Russell says Trump “has paid scant attention to policy details and it shows on his website”.

“The section on healthcare reform is primarily a rant about what’s wrong with the Affordable Care Act. The reality is – who knows what his position is? ”

Dr Russell says although Republican opposition to the ACA is strident, their position is solely focused on repeal.

“Republicans in the House have voted to delay, defund or repeal the law some 60 times. Nothing substantive has ever emerged to replace the ACA. The ACA is in dire need of legislative tweaking to make it work better. This has not happened since it was enacted, because of Republican intransigence.”