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When Will Politicians Start Caring About People's Actual Problems?

Ted Rall on

When you crank out five editorial cartoons and a couple of opinion essays a week, not to mention opining on the radio about this issue and that, it is easy to forget about the basics.

The big issues.

The stuff that really matters to you. It's just as easy to forget to ask: What are our political leaders doing to address our most pressing problems? This is, after all, their job. It's what we pay them for.

Pew Research Center pollsters regularly ask Americans what they consider to be the problem that worries them most. On April 15, the No. 1 Biggest Problem in America was "the affordability of health care." Fifty-six percent of respondents called huge medical bills "a very big problem," and 30% said it was "a moderately big problem," for a total of 86%. That's pretty much everyone. It even includes people who have "good" insurance through their employers.

"Health care costs is the only issue of the 15 asked on the survey seen as a very big problem by a majority of Americans, though about half say that the federal budget deficit (49%), violent crime (48%), illegal immigration (48%) and gun violence (48%) are very big problems," Pew reported.

This is proof positive. The Affordable Care Act obviously hasn't fixed the problem it was designed to address: skyrocketing medical expenses. According to Gallup, a whopping 80% of patients still worry a great deal or a fair amount about health care costs, a number that has remained essentially unchanged year after year since Barack Obama became president.

 

What are the two major political parties doing about health care costs? Not much.

Democrats think we should be grateful for the crappy system we have now. Three weeks ago, the White House announced that President Joe Biden had placed a phone call to Obama to celebrate the 10th anniversary of "Obamacare." Biden campaigned on adding a "public option" to the ACA but then left it out of his budget. He floated reducing the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 60 but dropped the idea when asked where the money would come from. Democrats have no plans to fix "Obamacare"; they think it's perfect as is.

Not that the Republicans are any better.

The Supreme Court ruling in favor of the ACA has forced the GOP to give up on its vague Trump-era "repeal and replace" mantra. Now they're saying nothing at all. "If the Republicans have a health care agenda, they haven't shown their cards," Drew Altman, who runs the Kaiser Family Foundation, recently told Politico. They whine about "Obamacare" to get votes. But they don't want to change it.

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