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October 11, 2012 8:00 AM The Presidential Candidates and Health Care

By Aaron Carroll

Given the nature of campaigns, answers to difficult policy questions are often reduced to soundbites. This holds true even in debates. While the campaigns will say that they have made clear their stances on health policy and health care reform, many details remain murky.

Austin Frakt and I recently went to the mats and mapped out what President Obama and Governor Romney say they will do with respect to private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. We then put it all together and tried to make what we’d compiled as concise and transparent as possible. We really did our best to do both these candidates justice while getting at the real-world implications of their plans.

Our piece was just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

Much is at stake in the 2012 presidential election. President Barack Obama’s and Governor Mitt Romney’s visions differ across many domains, but perhaps most starkly in the area of health policy. Fundamentally, the candidates disagree on the role of government as the guarantor of affordable access to health insurance, as evidenced by their plans for private insurance markets, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Go read it. It’s not that long, but it’s chock full of information. It also has what may be my most favorite chart ever. We worked our tails off (with some help from readers of the blog) to show how President Obama and Governor Romney plan to spend money on health care in the future. I’m awfully proud of the work, as I don’t know of another chart that makes the differences between the two campaigns so clear. Here’s our version of the chart. (One formatted differently, but with the same data, is in the JAMA version. Click through to see full size.)

Still, read the paper. Go for the chart and stay for the text. Share it. Send it to your friends. You know what to do…

[Cross-posted at The Incidental Economist]

Aaron Carroll ,MD, is an associate professor of Pediatrics and the associate director of Children’s Health Services Research at Indiana University School of Medicine.