The Affordable Care Act may–to the chagrin of some economists– be the deciding issue in this Presidential election. Unlike Romney’s 5 point plan or Obama’s plan to educate young people and bring manufacturing jobs back from China, Americans have already in many cases seen the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, at work. Thus many know whether they are for or against it. They also likely understand, that if President Barack Obama is re-elected, the bulk the Act will roll out on schedule in 2014. People indeed know that it will be repealed by Romney–per his promise–if the Romney/Ryan ticket is victorious. Thus, since many people are strongly in favor and others are just as vehemently opposed the Affordable Care Act, it could be the tipping point.
If those making less than poverty level wages turn out in great numbers at the polls, the Affordable Care Act could secure a large number of Obama votes. Incidentally, it’s unlikely that this segment of the population was included in the polls that claim Romney is ahead. The Affordable Care Act has been so intensely debated over the last two years, that many Americans have formed a clear opinion of it (unlike so many other issues in this election).
Those that are for the Affordable Care Act know if Obama is re-elected, every American making less than 133 percent of the poverty line will receive Medicaid. Every American making between 133 percent and 400 percent of the poverty line will get tax credits to help with the purchase of private insurance. Also, most middle class as well as wealthy Americans will have to carry health insurance or risk a tax penalty. Those who’ve experienced unemployment over the last several years feel hope at the prospect that they need not worry that their families will lose health benefits if they should lose a job once the ACA is fully in effect. The sick or previously ill have been promised preexisting conditions will not affect their coverage. Lastly, expensive employer-based health plans will be taxed heavily starting in 2018.
For those who are opposed to the Affordable Care Act, it is unlikely that they will bend and vote for Obama, based on these factors. The health care reform mandates imposed on employers to provide birth control and the morning after pill–even in the cases of religious organizations–has incited law suits all over the country. For the elderly, who care less about birth control and more about Medicare—there is concern over the the “death panel.” Furthermore, opponents warn that the paperwork requirements for doctors and hospitals will go out of control, causing administrative costs to skyrocket. Perhaps one of the loudest arguments from those who oppose the ACA, is that it is unconstitutional in its requirement that everyone buy into it.
According to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 55 percent of registered voters say the outcome of this election will make “a great deal of difference” in their lives. It is up to the voter to decide what that difference will look like, and whether it will involve a fully implemented Affordable Care Act.
What do you think? Is the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare a huge deciding factor for you in this election?