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HOW WILL THE MID-TERM ELECTIONS EFFECT OBAMACARE?

By: Nicola Heredia, CHS Marketing Coordinator

Over the last four years, criticism of the Affordable Care Act has been undeniable, whether coming from politicians, the media or the American public. With the mid-term elections being held next week, health care has unexpectedly failed to become the top issue between the candidates running.

Although Republicans were very vocal about their disdain of the health care reform act when it was first implemented, the disapproval has not been a core issue during these elections. Instead, many candidates are discussing how they would scale back the law instead of repealing it altogether.

The shift in message may come as reports demonstrate that health care is not the primary topic that Americans are focusing on going into these elections.

According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, health care ranks third among issues important to potential voters. Similarly, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey demonstrated that only 8 percent of participants said that health care was the most important issue at hand entering the mid-term election.

“It was all ACA, all the time,” said Kaiser President Drew Altman in a press release. “It’s historically been an issue that generates way more heat than it drives votes.”

The New York Times, among many other news outlets, reports that the economy is still the number one issue among American voters. Although the U.S. economy continues to improve, the growth is slow and voters are still concerned on how we can build on this progress in the future.

According to a study released in the New England Journal for Medicine, there is a significant divide among voters based on their political party affiliation and how they feel about the Affordable Care Act.  Approximately two thirds of Democratic voters are invested in seeing the next Congress move forward with and grow Obamacare. However, 56 percent of Republicans polled want the law repealed, while 27 percent want the health care reform to be scaled back.

Undoubtedly, there is a wide gap on how each party’s supporters feel towards Obamacare.  When it comes to Universal health care, however, the feelings are even more polarizing with 70 percent of Democratic voters in favor, while only 12 percent of Republicans are supportive of that initiative.

“The intensity of partisan feeling about the ACA in this election could make the next phase of its implementation a very contentious issue in the next Congress,” said study co-author Robert Blendon, in a Harvard School of Public Health news release. “The polling results point clearly to why the election outcome will matter for the ACA.”

Since health care reform has been such a dividing issue among both the American public and the politicians, it makes sense why candidates have not focused so much on their support or criticism of Obamacare. Although Republicans have been very forthcoming about their desire to repeal Obamacare, there seems to be less discussion of that leading up to the mid-term elections.

Instead, the parties’ message to their constituents have somewhat shifted. Democrats have promised to seek out more resources and make improvements to the law if Congress is a majority Democratic. Instead of repealing the law entirely, Republicans have campaigned on their desire to scale back specific parts of the law.

“I think those of us who are working in American health care remain hopeful, that the political landscape will allow the parties to come together and to think about how to make really needed improvements in the Affordable Care Act,” said Steve Lipstein, the chief executive of BJC healthcare in a CCTV-America article.

Mid-terms elections are particularly interesting because they provide an opportunity for there to be a shift in power within Congress. Determining what the future holds for Obamacare could very well rely on the upcoming elections.

EBOLA ANXIETY IN AMERICA MAY BE OVERREACTION

By: Nicola Heredia, CHS Marketing Coordinator

Up until this month, the Ebola virus appeared to be contained to specific countries in West Africa. As the region continues to battle the outbreak, Americans have found the disease on their own shores recently.

A total of four patients have been diagnosed and treated for the Ebola virus in the U.S. since the beginning of October. One individual lost his battle with the virus, while the other three patients have either been diagnosed as Ebola-free or are on their way to recovery.

These four cases are the only time that the U.S. has been faced with managing this contagious virus. Anxiety over an outbreak has risen among Americans. In fact, a Washington Post/ABC News poll reported that two-thirds of Americans are concerned that they are witnessing the beginning of an American Ebola epidemic.

“When people are anxious about a threat like Ebola, it doesn’t necessarily matter if they look at numbers, facts and probabilities,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a PBS article. “Because of the way our brains work, something rare and exotic is much scarier than something that’s familiar.”

The fact is that although Ebola is an extremely contagious disease, it is rather difficult to contract outside the hospital. According to the CDC, the virus is “spread through direct contact with blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with Ebola, objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus and infected fruit bats or primates.”

At this point, no one outside the hospital in the community has been infected since the cases first occurred in the U.S. Experts believe that the risk is greater for doctors and nurses taking care of these patients, instead of the general public who may have been on a bus or in the same restaurant as the infected patient.

“We have the medical infrastructure in place to take care of the problem,” said Internist Pascal Imperato, dean of the public health school at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, in a CNBC article. “It’s a deadly disease for sure, but I’m not concerned about it spreading in the U.S.”

Since two of the healthcare workers who took care of the first Ebola patient contracted the disease, there has been speculation that there is a lack of preparedness among physicians, hospitals and other medical facilities. The CDC has started updating their procedures in light of the disease being spread.

Across the country, there are five international airports that are now screening passengers that are traveling from West Africa, where the virus continues to spread. Checking temperatures of these individuals is a new policy that was recently implemented. The goal is to catch Ebola-like symptoms in order to quarantine and test the individuals to contain the disease.

In addition to this, the CDC has released a new set of guidelines this week to help medical workers in diagnosing and treating Ebola, while protecting them. Experts agree that there are still challenges when it comes to screening and prevention of this disease.

“There is currently no licensed prophylaxis or treatment for any ebolavirus or mariburgvirus infection,” said Heinz Feldmann, a virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, in a Reason.com article. “Therefore, treatment is merely supportive.”

Research is ongoing to develop a quicker method of detecting this illness prior to symptoms appearing. In fact, in 2003 researchers began developing a diagnostic test that would indicate if a specific Ebola protein was in the patient’s blood. Many companies attempted to create tests based on the research, but no test as been rolled out thus far.

“It is easy to get complacent in between the outbreaks,” said Gerald Parker, vice president for public health and response at Texas A&M’s Health Center, in the CNBC article. “But we are seeing more of these over time and it’s good to keep the public aware of them.”

With the ongoing Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the Ebola patients being treated in the U.S., this should be enough motivation to continue to work to develop quicker testing methods. Early detection is important to help contain the disease and avoid an outbreak from occurring in America. 

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