By:  Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, Publisher, Solutions Law Press, Inc.; Executive Director, PROJECT COPE:  Coalition on Patient Empowerment & Coalition for Responsible Healthcare Policy; Managing Shareholder, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C., a Member of Stamer Chadwick Soefje PLLC.

With tomorrow’s “Super Tuesday” March 1, 2016 primary elections set to define the Presidential, Congressional and state and local candidates that Americans in November will chose from to lead U.S. policy, Americans concerned about health care or other critical policies need to make time to vote as well as participate in our political process through their own responsible political action  and encouraging other to do the same.  Voting in the upcoming March 1 or other Primary Election in your state is a particularly valuable opportunity to meaningfully influence the direction of our government by helping pick the candidates that will qualify to participate in the general election in November, as well as provide input on other key local issues on your ballot.

As Obamacare and other reforms continue to reshape our health care choices and wallets as other policies key to promoting and maintaining the health, prosperity, education, and freedom of our nation, every American should seize the opportunity to provide their input to elected officials.  While providing input or feedback on an ongoing basis to policy leaders also is important, too many Americans fail to take advantage of the most important and most easily accessible opportunity to participate – VOTING!

Contrary to the unfounded “my vote doesn’t count” claims of many Americans, voters that vote actually still decide who are candidates are and which of these candidates get elected to serve Americans.

In today’s tightly contested primary and general elections where increasingly are decided by margins of 5 percent or less of those voters who actually vote, every vote matters. In fact,  it is the very small number of Americans who actually bother to cast a ballot who actually pick our leaders and set the political agenda.  Sadly, the majority of eligible American voters don’t vote in primary or general elections.  Since very few Americans vote and elections are decided by the majority of Americans that actually vote, the power of the vote cast by any voter is much greater than most Americans realize and nowhere is this more true than in primary elections and caucuses.

Primary voting provides the best bang for the buck to voters looking to maximize the power of their vote.  Voters that vote in primaries in fact exercise extraordinary power both because their votes determine the slate of candidates on the ballot in the general election and because the extraordinary low voter turnout percentage means their individual vote carries more weight than in elections with higher voter turnout.  Take the current presidential primaries. According to United States Election Project Statistics, only 8.2% of eligible Republicans voted in the Nevada primary election on February 23, 2016; more than 90% of Republican voters didn’t participate.  Similarly, the February 1, 2016 Iowa Caucus was decided by the votes cast by only 15.7% of the eligible voters. More than 84% of Iowa voters didn’t participate.  See http://www.electproject.org/2016P.  Accordingly, just by showing up to vote, primary voters carry tremendous weight versus other election and the ballots cast by those voters carry on through the general election by deciding which candidates make the ballot in the general election.

The bottom line, your vote in the upcoming March 1 or other primary matters a lot more than you think.  Flex your political muscle in your March 1 or other upcoming primary election by voting.  Your vote will carry tremendous weight in deciding not only who lives in the White House for the next four years, but also the leaders who will represent you in Congress and state and local offices that exercise more direct, day-to-day influence over your lives and your finances.

About Project COPE: The Coalition On Patient Empowerment &  Coalition on Responsible Health Policy

Do you have ideas about how to improve the understandability of medication warnings or research findings for patients or other ideas about how to improve healthcare or health care policy?  Share your ideas in the  PROJECT COPE: Coalition On Patient Empowerment LinkedIn Group.  If you have knowledge, experience or other resources that could help patients, families, communities, or the government better understand or cope with  Asperger’s or other health care conditions, costs of care, or other challenges affecting Americans and the American health care system, we encourage you to get involved and share your insights.

As American leaders continue to struggle to deal with these and other mounting problems impacting the U.S. health care system, the input of individual Americans and businesses and community leaders is more critical than ever.  Get involved in helping to shape improvements and solutions to the U.S. health care system and the Americans it cares for by sharing your ideas and input through the Coalition For Responsible Health Care Policy  and exchanging information and ideas for helping American families deal with their family member’s illnesses, disabilities and other healthcare challenges through PROJECT COPE: Coalition On Patient Empowerment.

Sharing and promoting the use of practical practices, tools, information and ideas that patients and their families, health care providers, employers, health plans, communities and policymakers can share and offer to help patients, their families and others in their care communities to understand and work together to better help the patients, their family and their professional and private care community plan for and manage these  needs is the purpose of PROJECT COPE.

The Coalition and its PROJECT COPE arise and run on the belief that health care reform and policy must be patient centric and patient empowering.  The best opportunity to improve access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans is for every American, and every employer, insurer, and community organization to seize the opportunity to be good Samaritans.  The government, health care providers, insurers and community organizations can help by providing education and resources to make understanding and dealing with the realities of illness, disability or aging easier for a patient and their family, the affected employers and others. At the end of the day, however, caring for people requires the human touch.  Americans can best improve health care by not waiting for someone else to step up:  Step up and help bridge the gap when you or your organization can. Speak up to help communicate and facilitate when you can.  Building health care neighborhoods filled with good neighbors throughout the community is the key.

The outcome of this latest health care reform push is only a small part of a continuing process.  Whether or not the Affordable Care Act makes financing care better or worse, the same challenges exist.  The real meaning of the enacted reforms will be determined largely by the shaping and implementation of regulations and enforcement actions which generally are conducted outside the public eye.  Americans individually and collectively clearly should monitor and continue to provide input through this critical time to help shape constructive rather than obstructive policy. Regardless of how the policy ultimately evolves, however, Americans, American businesses, and American communities still will need to roll up their sleeves and work to deal with the realities of dealing with ill, aging and disabled people and their families.  While the reimbursement and coverage map will change and new government mandates will confine providers, payers and patients, the practical needs and challenges of patients and families will be the same and confusion about the new configuration will create new challenges as patients, providers and payers work through the changes.

We also encourage you and others to help develop real meaningful improvements by joining PROJECT COPE: Coalition On Patient Empowerment and by sharing ideas, tools and other solutions and other resources. The Coalition For Responsible Health Care Policy provides a resource that concerned Americans can use to share, monitor and discuss the Health Care Reform law and other health care, insurance and related laws, regulations, policies and practices and options for promoting access to quality, affordable healthcare through the design, administration and enforcement of these regulations.

You also may be interested in one or more of the following other recent articles published on the Coalition for Responsible Health Care Reform electronic publication available here, our electronic Solutions Law Press Health Care Update publication available here, and/or our HR & Benefits Update electronic publication available here.

You also can get details about how to arrange for your employees or other communities to participate in training on “Building Your Family’s Health Care Toolkit,”  using the “PlayForLife” resources to organize low-cost wellness programs in your workplace, school, church or other communities, and other process improvement, compliance and other training and other resources for health care providers, employers, health plans, community leaders and others here.

NOTE:  This article is provided for educational purposes.  It is does not provide legal advice, establish any attorney-client relationship or provide or serve as a substitute for legal advice to any individual or organization.  Readers must engage properly qualified legal counsel to secure legal advice about the rules discussed in light of specific circumstances.ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN BY THE WRITER TO BE USED, AND NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN CAN BE USED BY YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (1) AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW, or (2) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TAX-RELATED TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED HEREIN.  ©2016 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C. Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.

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