The next Democratic presidential debate on Oct. 15 will give 12 of the candidates a fresh chance to talk about their ideas beyond sprawling health care reform. (Callaghan O’Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

If you tuned in for the first five nights of the Democratic presidential debates, you might think “Medicare for All” and providing universal care are the only health care ideas Democrats have.

With four months to go before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses, proposals on issues like the opioid epidemic have attracted less attention.

That is because big-ticket policy ideas ― like enrolling all U.S. residents into a Medicare-style program and eliminating private insurance ― can help candidates stand out in the eyes of voters during a primary, said Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard University and director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program.

But Blendon said he has not seen polling suggesting voters have an appetite for another major health care debate. Voters are more concerned with how much they have to pay for medical care, like prescription drugs ― “very practical, pocketbook issues,” he said.

“So it’s just my belief that whoever wins is going to have to switch back to pocketbook issues,” Blendon said of the eventual Democratic nominee.

A new poll echoes that. Democratic voters are eager to hear more from the candidates about other health care issues, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Tuesday. The results show 58% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents believe the candidates are not spending enough time talking about women’s health, including access to reproductive health services, for instance. And more than half said the candidates were spending too little time discussing surprise medical bills and ways to lower the costs people pay for care. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.) (Emmarie Huetteman)

Posted by The non-Conformist