Health at the Polls

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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  • Peter

    The health insurance reform was a good start, it could have been better. I’m worried about what the mid-terms will do to the body and soul of health insurance reform. From where I’m standing, the legislation didn’t go far enough.

    Health insurance companies are not our friends. If your entire purpose is to make a profit, why are you insuring people’s health? Wall Street wants profits and the only way to do that is only have healthy people on your rolls.

    I have a pretty good employer-provided health insurance. But this also means that I’m tied to my benefits whether or not I’m happy in my work. I’m burning out but I can’t make any sort of change because I need insulin, I’ve got a CGMS and an insulin pump that I’ve grown very fond of. Frankly, with a little tweaking, I’d much prefer to pay my insurance premiums into Medicare and buy into that. If the $1200 I pay in a year and the $6000 my employer pays for my insurance, solvency wouldn’t be so much of an issue.

    The legislation should be amended to include the ability to negotiate volume discounts on drugs. Even the republicans didn’t want that in the prescription drug benefit that was enacted under President Bush.

    Our politicians are bought and paid for by the big money interests. Neither party seems all that motivated to work for the middle class.

    Given what the incoming congress critters want to do, I have the feeling that it’s going to get a lot worse for us.

  • CB

    My mother was refuesed treatment at the mayo clinic in Arizona because she had medicade part 2 and they were afraid they wouldn’t get paid.
    The government can’t run ANYTHING efficiently and the LAST thing we need is them in charge of health care. Regulations to keep insurance companies and medical care givers in check may help, but that is all. Look at the mess they have made with medicare and medicaid, not to menction social security. For goodness sakes, they can’t even run the post office efficiently (but fedex and other PRIVATE businesses compete with the federally funded post office and still turn a profit!).

    When you get a flat tire, you fix it.
    The government reinvents the wheel, and in this case, it is square.

    They should have FIXED MEDICARE and then allowed uninsured to purchase it at rates based on income, and left the private sector alone.

    You think things are bad in this country now, wait till the outrageous policies in this law kick in.

  • joan

    I have read a good deal of the Health Care Plan as now implemented and find it useful and it provides a brighter future for those of us with chronic diseases, and for the possibility of a healthier nation for our future. It will take a couple of decades to prove that a national HC Plan is possible and to create such that will help the majority of the population.

    There will be changes made to the current HC Plan, and hopefully the improvements will be beneficial and will improve what we now have.
    It is a beginning!

    However, today I believe there is nothing so uncommon as common sense being used by our population. No government can snap their Congressional and Administrative fingers and erase all the issues over night or in a few short years.

    Did this election have an effect on my politics?
    I know, from experience, who will provide us the healthiest environment and have consistently voted in that direction for quite a few years.

  • Karl Evans

    I voted against the Republicans everywhere I could. I am deathly afraid I will lose my health insurance if the new health care bill is defeated by the Republicans. My insurance companies will cancel me (consign me to the cemetery) at the first opportunity. Those people do not care about those of us with serious health problems. We must all watch their actions carefully.