Monday, August 21, 2006

Health Care Crisis Becoming a Middle Class Issue

The nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund recently released the results of a survey on health care in the US.

Perhaps the most eye-opening aspect of the survey was that it showed health care is becoming an increasingly difficult problem for middle class families.

According to the results, nearly half (48 percent) of middle income respondents ($35K - $50K per year) reported having serious difficulties paying for health care. The difficulty decreases as income increases – which is to be expected – but 1/3 of families with incomes between $50K and $75K still reported a problem paying medical bills, as did one in five with incomes over $75K.

This bodes well for Dems heading into 2008. The left has been looking for a way to court the middle class in the same way the GOP did in the 1980s with taxes, and comprehensive health care reform appears to be its best shot.

The Commonwealth Fund survey found that a whopping 75 percent of respondents say that the US health care system needs to be fundamentally rebuilt, whereas just 20 percent say only minor changes will suffice. This went for insured and uninsured respondents.

Notably, however, Republican respondents were more likely than Democrats to back minor changes over comprehensive reform (35 percent to 11 percent). Nevertheless, that shows that even a majority of Republican voters back comprehensive reform.

Unfortunately for the GOP, the current Republican leadership -- which has controlled the federal government for the past five years -- has shown its complete unwillingness to address health care reform on a large scale.

This leaves a significant opening for the Dems on the national level, and in some states like Wisconsin, which features a stark difference in the way the two candidates for governor perceive the need for reform of the state’s health care system.

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