Health at the Polls

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Today — November 2 — is election day in the United States, with the entire US House of Representatives, a third of the US Senate, and numerous state and local candidates on the ballot. Perhaps to a greater degree than the country has seen in decades, the topic of health care drew heated debate during the election season. And for good reason: As a recent Reuters article notes, this election could have a major impact on whether the health-care reform act signed by President Obama in March is implemented as written — or gets portions of its funding blocked. People with diabetes are, in several ways, at the center of the health-care debate.

Almost exactly a year ago, the American Diabetes Association (which is not affiliated with Diabetes Self-Management) announced its support for the House of Representatives’ version of health-care reform, which included most aspects of the current law as well as a public insurance option offered to some individuals. According to the ADA, the bill would help people with diabetes afford insurance coverage — including prescription-drug coverage for those on Medicare — as well as shift some focus from treating diabetes complications to preventing them through a variety of preventive-health measures. But the bill also changed the funding structure for Medicare Advantage Plans (also known as Medicare Part C), which are administered by private insurance companies but paid for by the government. Although most Medicare recipients do not participate in Part C, those who do may face reductions in benefits.

People with diabetes have been affected by federal legislation in less visible ways, too. A recent post here at Diabetes Flashpoints described a contest for ideas that might lead to a cure for Type 1 diabetes. The contest was funded by a grant provided by the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009, also known as the economic stimulus package.

But, of course, people with diabetes are, first and foremost, people — with diverse needs and desires that go well beyond the realm of health care. And every important issue of our day will be affected in some way by the election results.

How did health care factor into your voting decision — or your decision not to vote? Do you think you might have voted differently if you didn’t have diabetes? What health-related measures should the next Congress and President Obama have on their agenda? Leave a comment below!

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