Before the COVID-19 pandemic, in January 2020, State Policy Network conducted an in-depth study among an audience we named “The Vital Center.”This group consisted of voters in purple suburban counties that did not strongly identify with one party or the other. They were, and are, one of the key constituencies in elections and therefore wield massive influence in how candidates campaign and enact policy when they are elected.
Based on our data—and lacking the ability to foresee the pandemic—SPN pointed to healthcare reform as being a top issue in the 2020 presidential election. While the events of 2020 dramatically shifted the focus of the election, the attitudes and concerns over healthcare remain relevant, especially for state-based leaders and organizations working on reform ideas for America’s healthcare system.
One of the study’s key findings was that the Vital Center viewed healthcare affordability as spiraling out of control. Over one-third (37%) believed it was one of the top three most important issues for the nation to address. Furthermore, three out of five believed the federal government was the best suited to fix the problem of healthcare affordability.
As we slowly work to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, issues that had shifted to the backburner for the last 18 months are returning to the forefront. People’s desire for better access to high-quality healthcare has not gone away. In fact, people might be more desperate than ever for solutions that will make healthcare more affordable. It is critical that groups in the Network have a vision for future healthcare and have well-developed solutions in place to offer to policymakers and the public.
A more recent survey conducted for State Policy Network by Heart+Mind Strategies shows the clear danger to our healthcare system if our Network does not have its own solutions to offer. A plurality of Americans (41%) are not sure if a single-payer government healthcare solution is the correct path forward, but they also believe that the circumstances warrant giving this option a serious look. Comparatively, just one-in-four (25%) are sure that a single-payer option is bad for America.
Over one-third of Republican voters (36%) are ready to give single-payer healthcare a try, as are 40% of white Americans without a college degree. Both groups have been key parts of a conservative coalition in recent elections. Healthcare affordability is clearly a bipartisan concern, as is the growing feeling that there’s nothing left to try. Solution-oriented messages on healthcare are key to building interest in and support for free-market practices that won’t jeopardize the long-term sustainability and quality of our healthcare system.
This is where the Network can step in. We have long championed numerous healthcare reforms that would improve healthcare quality, access, and affordability. It is imperative that our Network present the public with a clear and winning vision of the future of healthcare that isn’t a single-payer government run system.
See more ideas for how states can lead the way in fixing our healthcare system.