Voters will have a lot on their minds when they go to the polls next year, and one resident scholar thinks 2020 will be a referendum on healthcare policy.
"Virtually no one is satisfied with the status quo right now," says Merrill Matthews, Ph.D. of the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI). "When you hear Democratic Party presidential candidates complain about why we need to move to something like a Medicare for All or something close to it, they all are denouncing the current healthcare system, which is ObamaCare that they voted for. And when it comes to Republicans, they're criticizing the current system because of the problems with it -- the expense of the system and so forth."
The question then becomes "What are you going to replace it with?"
"Democrats are pushing some variation of Medicare for All, but also, we just got the news from the Fifth Circuit that it's agreeing with a federal judge in Fort Worth who essentially said ObamaCare is unconstitutional because there is no tax penalty anymore," says Matthews. "They did not undermine the whole law as the federal judge had done; they sent it back to him to see if there aren't parts of that law that can be stripped away from the major insurance provisions in the legislation."
But between Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and the Democrats who want costly Medicare for All plans, former Vice President Joe Biden who wants to expand ObamaCare by adding a controversial public option, and the Republicans who did not deliver on a promise to voters to repeal and replace ObamaCare if elected, Matthews thinks Republicans face the biggest hurdle.
"When they do polls, the voters tend to favor Democrats over Republicans on healthcare, in part because they feel like Democrats care more about that issue, but also because the Democrats have managed to, in essence, set aside the sense that they created ObamaCare and all the problems we have right now and have blamed Republicans for that," the health policy expert offers. "And Republicans still don't have a plan that they can unite behind."
That, says Matthews, has hurt them.
"So from the Republicans' standpoint, about all they have right now is the president taking executive action in certain areas to try to make the system better," he continues. "It is just not clear Republicans are going to have a good solution, at which point they may just want to criticize ObamaCare and hope that works."