I’m Taking These Midterm Elections Personally

When you cast your ballot in the midterm election Tuesday (and please do!), what will drive the decisions you make? Will you vote for a political party or specific candidates that have inspired you? Will you focus instead on an issue that has captured your attention?

If pre-election polling and analysis are correct, many voters will make their choices based on which candidates or party they believe is more likely to preserve, protect and enhance their options for affordable, quality health care.

A Kaiser Family Foundation nationwide tracking poll found that a majority of voters say health care is a “very important” consideration in their vote for Congress this year; at least a quarter choose health care as the “most important issue.”

Time Magazine asked: “Is health care a sleeper issue in the midterm elections?” Democratic candidates apparently think so. Nearly half of all their advertisements focus on health care.

Bloomberg reports that health care companies that are likely very aware of this have poured millions of dollars into this week’s midterm election.

Where would you access health care if a hurricane made regular deliveries of essential medicine impossible? This Florida couple can’t go without diabetes and heart medicine. Photo by Americares

This attention to health care makes sense to me on two levels. First, I lead a health-focused global humanitarian organization. At Americares, we believe health is fundamental to a productive life. With good health, many doors are open. Poor health puts opportunity in jeopardy. That’s why we focus our work on improving health outcomes for people affected by poverty or disaster.

Second, my wife, Sandy, and I have become dependent on quality health care as she battles through a cancer diagnosis. Sandy and I are looking for improvements in our health care system, not ideas that jeopardize it. That’s why I’m watching the political landscape closely to make my own judgment about who has the best ideas to make health care affordable, accessible and of the highest quality.

How can you afford a flu shot if you’re low-income and uninsured? Americares Free Clinics has provided more than 1,000 flu shots this season. Photo by Americares

It is unfortunate that health care has become one of the most polarizing political issues in our country. We have the most expensive health care in the world — and not the best outcomes. Most people want something done about it. It is the what-to-do that causes so much debate.

My hope is that the candidates who win in this year’s election are committed to working together to find new, innovative and bold ways to solve the health care dilemma. We’d all be better for it.

It is often said that all politics is local, meaning that most people vote in their self-interest. There are few things more in our self-interest — therefore few things more local — than our own health.