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Happy Election Day!

By Dr. Evan Saulino
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Exercise the right that best exemplifies our democracy, and make sure you vote today.  Make a personal pledge to try and get everyone you know to vote as well!

There have been all sorts of predictions about this election - most forecast a Red Republican Wave set to sweep the nation today.  Whatever happens, it’s clear the Democrats will lose substantial power – probably the House of Representatives, maybe not the Senate.

Although there may be quick calls for repeal of the Affordable Care Act in the House, there will not be the political power necessary to do it. However, by actively opposing implementation through withholding funds or through endless investigations, opponents could slow progress or bring it to a grinding halt.

States are where much of the Affordable Care Act implementation will happen, so the winners of state Governors races will play a big role in health care reform as well. 

With all the economic and political turmoil seeming to turn things upside down, I haven’t been sure what the election results really will tell us - except that Americans want a better economy. 

Of course, if you recognize how health insurance companies have switched their financial support from Democrats to Republicans, you have to realize this election will not fundamentally change much of what goes on in Washington, D.C.

And who wins any election will not change the most important things that doctors and health advocates have to do to ensure better health care for Americans – although it may change the details of how we go about achieving this.

 First, we need to protect what has been won in the Affordable Care Act. 

 As soon as it was passed, long before the election, the health care law was challenged in the courts. That long legal battle will likely reach the Supreme Court, although most legal experts believe the law will be upheld in the end.  But as doctors know with liability/malpractice issues, we have little control in the legal system - and this activist Supreme Court is anything but predictable.

 However, it was vocal, activated health professionals who helped provide the necessary political will to pass health reform in the first place.  If we stay involved and continue to witness and tell the stories of our patients and all the other real, live Americans who are benefitting from the new law’s implementation, we will help beat back calls of “Repeal” for good.

 We’ll successfully protect our progress and set a foundation to build upon if we Educate and empower the public with the facts.

 Incredibly, still 36% of seniors still believe there are Death Panels.

 There’s a lot that must be done to counter over $100 million in ads spent by opponents of health reform, many of which were filled with false information.

 Trying to do my part, through Doctors for America’s Speak the Truth Campaign, I have pledged to give a presentation about health reform to a senior living community in my town.

  What could you do?   

 Finally, the election will not change the need to Advocate for a better health care delivery system that produces the best health, rather than just producing health care services as commodities.  For all it will do to help my patients, the Affordable Care Act only tinkered with trying to produce more efficient, effective health care for Americans.

 One key is to help policymakers of all political leanings understand that supporting innovation in care, and investing in well-coordinated, patient-centered primary care will not only save lives, but is also likely to save money – all while producing valuable economic benefits.

 So, I guess I’ll wait-and-see how our teeter-totter American electorate votes and let the chips fall where they may. 

 Like the “winners” and the “losers” will probably realize on November 3rd, the hardest work is still yet to be done.

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