Last week's debate was the first official debate of the 2016 presidential campaign season. Unfortunately, most of the healthcare talk was little more than soundbites.
Another season of The Great American Sound Bite Competition, aka the Presidential Debates, has begun, where moderators get to toss their best "gotchas" and candidates respond with their best sound bites or avoid the question. Topics include the policy trifecta of domestic policy, foreign policy, and economic policy and, depending on the amount of fresh meat you toss to your base, everybody gets a trophy for showing up. Fortunately, after the election in November 2016, the show will be canceled, at least until after the inauguration in January 2017 when the next season begins.
Healthcare policy tidbits included the mandatory shots at Obamacare, Planned Parenthood, and Medicaid expansion. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie nibbled at entitlement reform.
Doctors and patients viewing the show might have come away disappointed that the candidates didn't have time to respond with more concrete solutions to the issues plaguing Sickcare USA—rising prices, the role of government, the healthcare impact of gun ownership, shifting more of the cost of care to patients and their families, the future solvency of Medicare and disability payments, VA reform, the toll of illegal immigration on healthcare systems, and much more.
Part of the reason Donald Trump is at the top of the polls is his appeal to the "fed-up crowd." Unfortunately, desperate voters, including doctors and their patients, are looking for simple answers and political correctness be damned. They are likely to be disappointed because healthcare is too intertwined with other policy matters, including many third rails, and there are no simple answers.
The healthcare revolution is being waged between Washington, Wall Street, the medical-industrial complex, and Main Street. Who wins and the outcomes of that victory remain to be seen. When it comes to healthcare, finances, and civics, Americans generally have a low literacy rates and they might be tantalized by tabloid campaigns. That's the easy way. The hard way is to become informed, be open to new ideas, and show up.