Health

The American Voter – Still a Surprise

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Contrary to the pollsters’ and pundits’ best prognostications the American voter has managed to once again surprise everyone and prove that they are still the best at telling all the politicians what is really most important to them.

There were many ebbs and flows in the issues leading up to election day. The Supreme Court’s decision on abortion suddenly jumped into the headlines and caused a real ripple in the standard thinking that the President’s party always lose seats in Congress in an off-year (non-presidential and non-midterm) election. It seemed instantly that the momentum swung toward the Democrats’ favor and this feeling was bolstered by the constant headlines of the January 6th Committee’s ongoing investigations and the legal problems of former President Donald Trump which threatened his hold and influence on the Republican party. The Democrats also seemed to focus on what they perceived as a threat to democracy poised by the election deniers and the upheaval it caused during the last election leading up to the January 6th attack on the Capitol.

As the election grew closer, the pollsters began to see a change. They detected a return to the basic beliefs that the President’s party would lose Congressional seats and the catch phrase, “it’s the economy, stupid” coined during the Clinton campaign would come to bear as Republicans put the blame of the high inflation on the Democrats. It just seemed logical that these two historical truths would rule the day and talk of a Republican red tsunami began to emerge.

So, there we were, the often wooed, repeatedly polled, American voter trying to decide how we really felt and how our votes could reflect those feelings. As the votes rolled in there were clues that arose that indicated this election was not one that would follow history. Different regions told different stories. New York State looked like the issue of the economy and the Republicans would prevail, while just south, in Pennsylvania, abortion and the threat on democracy would prevail. Overall, it was clear that the gains that the Republicans hoped for were not to come to fruition. Because of the favorable pre-election predictions of a Republican wave, the results have been categorized, especially by Democrats, as a victory for the Democrats but the final results will, most likely, weaken Biden’s ability to advance his agenda.

Here’s where we stand. As I finish writing this blog on the weekend, the Republicans are inching toward gaining control of the House while the Democrats will remain in control of the Senate. What I do know is that the majorities in both chambers will be so small that any new legislative initiatives will be very difficult to pass.

Before I talk about the post-election environment, I want to offer my own opinion of this election. I think the pollsters missed the basic fears that Americans have been feeling over the last three years and especially in the last year. We went through a life changing pandemic that was nothing like any of us had ever experienced and, just as we were emerging out of the shadow of COVID we were confronted by, what many called, an insurrection on January 6th. This threat on some of the basic tenets of our country was followed by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which devolved into some talking of the use of nuclear weapons. If this wasn’t enough, we began to face inflation that immediately reduced the value of the dollar, which especially affects older Americans. I think, and this is just my opinion, that Americans wanted to find a safe harbor, and that meant avoiding extremes and reducing the affect our government could have on our everyday lives. I feel the ballot boxes reflected this flight to safety. I think this is what the pollsters missed.

OK, so what does the future hold for our healthcare? While there won’t be an easy path for legislation there will be the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act which will have a big impact on how this law will affect each one of us. I keep saying that the devil is always in the details and this is especially true of this vaguely written law. There could also be some angels in the details which we can also recognize and work toward. It is also true that it has become a habit over the last decade or so that the current President, when it is difficult to promote his agenda through legislation, uses Executive Orders, experimental programs that emerge from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation and are implemented nationwide and regulations that emerge from HHS and other civilian agencies as ways to enact his agenda without the approval of Congress. We need to be vigilant to quickly react to these unchecked attacks on our healthcare.

The elections were certainly interesting and I for one was happy to see that the American voter can still surprise the experts and have a big impact on those who represent us in Washington. As Seniors Speak Out looks forward to next year, we decided it is important to find out how you feel about your healthcare and what you would like the new politicians to focus on going forward. We have a post-election survey that we would like you to take to tell us how you feel. Please click here to take the survey. We are also doing a Facebook Live event this Thursday at 6:00 PM ET where we will talk about Medicare open enrollment along with the early results of our survey. Take the survey and then see the results by registering for the Facebook Live event.

It’s going to be an interesting time going forward. Everyone at Seniors Speak Out will work to keep you up-to-date on what’s happening with your healthcare and ways you can have an impact on what happens in Washington.

Best, Thair

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