AHA 14: Political forum discusses healthcare's role in US politics

Political gurus discussed the Obama administration, the upcoming midterm elections and the 2016 presidential race at the American Hospital Association's Annual Membership Meeting, touching on healthcare policy and its role in the country's political future.

Panelists Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist; David Axelrod, former senior advisor to President Barack Obama; Josh Kraushaar, National Journal politics editor; and Amy Walter, national editor of the Cook Political Report, bantered back and forth on everything from immigration to potential 2016 presidential candidates.

Moderator Norman Ornstein, National Journal contributing editor and columnist, posed the question: will the Affordable Care Act be the centerpiece of the midterm elections next year?

The law helped Republicans in the off year, and the party is hoping for premium increases before the midterm elections, which combined with the country's dislike for the reform to lift, could them up in the polls and help win the Senate majority in 2015, Murphy said. Walters agreed.

"Eight-five percent of people in this country have some sort of health coverage now," she said. However, many who will vote in upcoming elections already had healthcare, and many of them believe the ACA will negatively affect them or raise their premiums. Until the government proves to people the reform won't jeopardize their current care or keep them from seeing their primary care physicians, "it is going to be used more negatively than positively," Walters said of the ACA.

Because the disastrous HealthCare.gov rollout tainted healthcare reform's image for many, Axelrod said the Democrats need to better publicize the law's successes--including hitting enrollment goals, abolishing lifetime insurance caps, ensuring coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and making it easier for young people to get coverage.

"Democrats shouldn't run away from it and I don't think they can," he said.

To learn more:
- here's the AHA website