After one week, the country is still abuzz about the performance of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the first presidential debate. With the focus on domestic policy, this debate was billed as a 90-minute forum to highlight the stark differences between President Barack Obama and former Masschusetts Governor Mitt Romney. With as much as 90 percent of likely voters’ minds already made up before the first debate, what’s the likelihood that the American public would learn something which would alter their vote?
Covering the topics such as jobs, taxes, and even Sesame Street icon Big Bird, the candidates provided plenty of red meat (or white meat, maybe?) for the base supporters of each respective party. Nowhere else in the debate was there such a strong difference between Obama and Romney than on the topic of how health care will be managed in the near future. As one would expect from politicians, the key differences were not focus on health care outcomes but mainly on the regulation of our current system.
Most would agree, candidate Romney was effective at being assertive on his point that our federal government should step out of the way and continue to allow private markets to shape our healthcare system. Stating that private insurance does a better job at providing medical insurance than the federal government, candidate Romney laid the foundation for his indictment of the Obama administration’s biggest domestic win — the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. ObamaCare). Candidate Romney turned a presumed weak point, his healthcare legislation in Massachusetts, into an opportunity to highlight that states are better equipped to handle Medicare annd Medicaid than a top-down “government takeover” of these federal entitlement programs. Still bereft of details, Romney lauded pre-existing conditions would also be covered under his plan.
To the chagrin of his staunchest supporters, President Obama’s performance was described as “professorial,” appeared anemic, and simply a reiteration of his stump speeches. Attempting to connect candidate Romney to the waning popularity of the ACA, President Obama asserted that the state of Massachusetts was the perfect example and model for the current ACA. With health care spending as much as 15 percent of GDP, President Obama was effective with his message that the main effect of ACA was to help secure the economic of the middle class.
Although Govvernor Romney has seen an appreciable bump in the national polls, President Obama has attempted to quell tides of fear from his supporters by “setting the record straight.” So, have we learned anything different from this past debate?
The answer is no (especially for those who are “uncommitted”) as the clock continues to tick until November 6th. Yes, the American Medical Association has endorsed the ACA; however, the onus falls on individual physicians to educate their patients and the general public on the pros and cons of our current health care system and the proposals each candidate has for its reform.
Nii Darko, DO, MBA