Elections come around before we know it. And the forces that tilt the outcomes may be subtler than we may realize. In the case of the upcoming fall midterms, one factor helping to pull the lever is a bit of a dark horse. That factor is Medicare Advantage (MA).

At least that is what the Better Medicare Alliance, a proponent of MA, is predicting. Because of the tremendous growth of MA, voters may be sincerely interested in supporting those candidates who stick up for MA.

A thoughtful premise, indeed. And hardly implausible, given the sway of Medicare voters, a reliable voting base. Politicians know all too well that messing with Medicare is a sure way to sabotage one’s election chances. Now, with MA’s growing in popularity, it seems we can extend the sacredness of the Medicare benefit to this private insurance benefit.

And other aspects of Medicare may play a role in shaping how  people vote going forward. Here’s one to mull: the community-based palliative care benefit. In a podcast this week, Edo Banach, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, suggested that the pandemic actually served to bolster interest in the benefit, which is not yet available from Medicare but would allow people to receive both curative care and palliative care simultaneously. (Ironically enough, several MA plans offer palliative care as a supplemental benefit.) The disabling effects of COVID-19, including long COVID, awakened people to an understanding of and need for palliative care, he said.

“What we’ve been through as a country over the last two years has sort of illustrated why we need it,” Banach said.

No doubt COVID and other new realities, such as inflation, have created an entirely new landscape for Americans. Candidates of all stripes would be wise to pay attention.

Liza Berger is editor of McKnight’s Home Care. Email her at [email protected].