Polling Shows Health-Care Protections a Hot-Button Election Issue

Without Affordable Care Act protections, health care advocates say, a hospital visit is very costly for people with pre-existing conditions. Grafixer/Morguefile

Mary Kuhlman
Public News Service

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Health care appears to be a hot-button issue for voters in Ohio and across the nation. According to polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 75 percent of Americans say it’s very important the Affordable Care Act provision protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions remains law.

Janetta King, president of think-tank Innovation Ohio, explained that without those protections, a trip to the doctor’s office or emergency room is very costly for people with pre-existing conditions

“Almost 5 million people had pre-existing conditions that, before the Affordable Care Act, found themselves really struggling to afford health care,” King said. “And now they are very concerned that those protections for their pre-existing conditions might get taken away.”

An estimated 27 percent of Americans ages 18-64 have some kind of pre-existing health condition, such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.

Columbus is leading Baltimore, Cincinnati and Chicago in suing the Trump administration for efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein contented access to health care coverage is the building block of a strong, robust economy.

“At the end of the day, if you don’t have your health, you really have nothing,” Klein said. “How can you provide for your family, how can you go back to school and get an education, how can you get retrained for a job of the 21st Century if you are sick and you don’t have health care coverage to treat your illness.”

King said health care is truly on the upcoming ballot here in Ohio, as the current governor single-handedly brought Medicare expansion to the state and the next governor could single-handedly destroy it.

“The Legislature does not support expansion as a whole,” King explained. “They have been taking votes to take down or freeze the current Medicaid expansion. And Republican Gov. John Kasich has actually said, ‘No, I don’t want to roll back Medicaid expansion. I brought it to Ohio; I want to keep it.'”

Kaiser polling shows Americans across the political spectrum support protections for pre-existing conditions. That includes 86 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of independents and 58 percent of Republicans.