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Democrats' health care message is resonating with critically important blocs of midterm voters, according to the latest Axios/SurveyMonkey polling.
The big picture: Democrats are moving left on health care. Embracing the Affordable Care Act is now a given, and candidates are increasingly embracing a bigger role for the federal government.
By the numbers: We asked five groups of voters whether Congress should expand the ACA, leave it alone, shrink it, or repeal it altogether.
Why it matters: This is why Democrats want to be talking about health care this fall — and it's also why the progressive wing of the party feels so comfortable staking out a more liberal position on health care, whether that's the revival of a public insurance option or some form of "Medicare for All."
It's not just that voters seem to agree with Democrats on health care when they're asked — it's also been surging as a priority in recent polling. And that means it probably will be a decisive issue in the midterms, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Drew Altman writes this morning.
The bottom line: The ACA helped Republicans win those midterm elections — and now the repeal effort has given the Democrats a weapon to use to motivate their base and reach out to independents.
Go deeper: Read the column in the Axios stream.
Two things are true about the prospect of switching to a single-payer health care system:
Driving the news: The libertarian Mercatus Center made waves yesterday with a report that said Sen. Bernie Sanders' version of "Medicare for All" would require about $32.6 trillion in new federal spending over its first 10 years.
Yes, but: It's still less expensive than what we're projected to spend now. If Mercatus' estimates are correct, Sanders' plan would cost about $2 trillion less, over 10 years, than the status quo.
The difference is where the money comes from. We spend a ton of money right now on health care — about $3.3 trillion in 2016, which comes out to more than $10,000 per person. That’s far more than any other industrialized nation.
Between the lines: Countries with established single-payer systems spend a lot less than the U.S. on health care now, but Sanders' proposal is more generous than some of those systems. That puts it on the most expensive end of the spectrum.
People who don’t receive the ACA’s premium subsidies are fleeing the individual insurance market, leaving it smaller and more concentrated, according to the latest data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
By the numbers: Total enrollment in the individual market fell by about 12%, or 2 million people, from the first quarter of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018.
This shouldn’t be a big surprise. As premiums have risen — in large part because of the actions of the Trump administration and congressional Republicans — the burden has mostly fallen on unsubsidized people who have to pay the whole cost on their own.
The big picture, from Kaiser: “The availability of premium subsidies … is likely sufficient to keep the individual insurance market financially sustainable ... However, based on the current trajectory, the market is likely to be increasingly dominated by lower-income people and those with pre-existing conditions.”
Ascension and Centene are creating a new Medicare Advantage plan together in 2020. But, as my colleague Bob Herman notes, there are no details about how it would function or how it would affect prospective enrollees.
Why it matters: Hospital systems (like Ascension) and insurance companies (like Centene) increasingly are partnering on Medicare Advantage, the private sector’s take on Medicare coverage, which is growing in popularity. But the companies' economic interests may not align with patients’ coverage options.
The big questions: The companies would not say whether Ascension hospitals and doctors would be the only in-network providers, or how much it would cost members if they go to providers outside of the plan’s networks.
Between the lines: This is an exercise of hospitals collecting new sources of revenue, while health insurers offload some of the risk associated with operating insurance plans.