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The fifth Democratic primary debate on Wednesday (November 20) started on the same note as the fourth, third, second, and first debate: Healthcare. And, while the conversations on stage can certainly get tiring, there’s a good reason we can’t stop talking about healthcare.
Simply, American people care about it.
According to a FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll conducted earlier this week, nearly 20 percent of people said health care was the most important issue to them in the Democratic primary — more than any other issue.
It’s also one of the issues that differentiates the candidates more clearly than any other issue. We know that voters care about the issues, but the intricacies of the issue is where the debate really gets going: According to a CBS News poll released in October, 91 percent of Democrats said that they favor a “national, government-administered health insurance plan that would be available to all individuals.” A July NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll showed that 64 percent of Democrats think Medicare for All is a good idea if they’re told that it would replace private health insurance and 90 percent of Democrats think “Medicare for All who want it,” or a system that allows Americans to choose between a national health insurance program or their own private health insurance is a good idea according to the same poll.
It’s no secret that Americans are dissatisfied with the current state of healthcare, either: Despite that polls say Americans are pretty happy with their personal insurance overall, the fact remains that in 2016, Americans paid twice as much as comparable countries for healthcare that was demonstrably worse. Moreover, those numbers leave out the 27.5 million Americans who don’t have healthcare at all. On top of that, 44 percent of Americans are living on the brink of financial ruin, and believe that an illness would count as a financial hardship.
But even though Americans do care about health care, and are interested in the nuances in how each candidates’ plans differ, some Twitter debate watchers are wondering why it was given so much time when other important issues — like climate change, abortion rights, and the economy — are so often left off the debate floor.