The Election Matters Less Than You Think

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The day after an election, emotions are still riding high from the drama of the night before. Our two-party system engenders polarized thinking. Even those of us who consider ourselves moderate or independent can fall prey to the psychological effect of choosing a favored candidate, which is arriving at the belief, justified or not, that the other candidate will be disastrous for the country.

The reality of our political system, however, is that both parties hew closer to the center than we realize. Take this year’s French presidential election, which was a close race between candidates who would both seem left wing to American voters—there, as here, the citizenry of a democracy has a way of collectively establishing acceptable margins for its politicians. We think we are choosing between two extremes, but the extremes are never as extreme as they seem.

With this in mind, how much did the election stand to impact health care in general and radiology in particular if the White House changed hands? Speculation is just that, of course, but this morning I e-mailed Ted Burnes, director of RADPAC, to get his more informed thoughts on what a Romney presidency might have meant for reform. Though there was much discussion of repeal during the race, Burnes’ thoughts echoed my own on the realistic potential outcome:

“I’m not convinced he’d do a complete repeal (he’s not as conservative by nature as he was in this race) but he definitely would’ve changed the IPAB and a bunch of other provisions/mandates in the ACA, especially as it related to insurance and the tax implications on things like medical devices. I do believe that he would’ve kept the pre-existing conditions provision and the 26 years of age or younger for kids on parents’ insurance.”

Though it may have been tempting to believe the hard times would be over with a change in the presidency, deep down, those of us in health care know better. We know that our system’s problems aren’t going away and that deeper emphases on cost reduction and quality of care are here to stay, regardless of who is sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office. Today, as yesterday and the day before, we have to stay nimble, adaptable, and focused on adding value wherever we can.

In the interest of furthering that conversation, let us know: If you could set one goal for the radiology community in the next four years, what would it be?