Julie Rovner

Health care has been a leading issue in the presidential campaign over the past year, as Democratic candidates have clashed with each other, and especially with President Trump. But voters, who tell pollsters that health is among their top concerns, also complain that the health debate has been confusing and hard to follow.

With voting about to begin in many states, here's a guide to some key health care terms, issues and policy differences at play.

Universal coverage, "Medicare for All" and single-payer are not the same thing

Any day now, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans could rule that the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

At least it seemed that two of the three appeals court judges were leaning that way during oral arguments in the case, State of Texas v. USA, in July.

It was a moment of genuine bipartisanship at the House Ways and Means Committee in October, as Democratic and Republican sponsors alike praised a bill called the "Restoring Access to Medication Act of 2019."

The bill, approved by the panel on a voice vote, would allow consumers to use their tax-free flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts to pay for over-the-counter medications and women's menstrual products.

With Democrats now in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, it might appear that the fight over abortion rights has become a standoff.

After all, abortion-rights supporters within the Democratic caucus will be in a position to block the kind of curbs that Republicans advanced over the past two years when they had control of Congress.

But those on both sides of the debate insist that won't be the case.

If last Friday's district court ruling that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional were to be upheld, far more than the law's most high-profile provisions would be at stake.

In fact, canceling the law in full — as Judge Reed O'Connor in Fort Worth, Texas, ordered in his 55-page decision — could thrust the entire health care system into chaos.

Once again, Medicare is moving front and center in this fall's campaigns.

Throughout the election season, Democrats have been criticizing Republicans over votes and lawsuits that would eliminate insurance protections for pre-existing conditions for consumers.

But now Republicans are working to change the health care conversation with a tried-and-true technique used by both parties over the years: telling seniors their Medicare coverage may be in danger.

New York University's School of Medicine is learning that no good deed goes unpunished.

The highly ranked medical school announced with much fanfare this month that it is raising $600 million from private donors to eliminate tuition for all its students — even providing refunds to those currently enrolled. Before the announcement, annual tuition at the school was $55,018.

Senate Democrats, who are divided on abortion policy, are instead turning to health care as a rallying cry for opposition to Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

Specifically, they are sounding the alarm that confirming the conservative U.S. Court of Appeals judge could jeopardize one of the Affordable Care Act's most popular provisions — its protections for people with pre-existing health conditions.

What would the U.S. look like without Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide?

That's the question now that President Trump has chosen conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Dr. Atul Gawande, the surgeon-writer-researcher chosen to lead a joint health venture by three prominent employers who hope to bring down health costs, says his biggest goal is to help professionals "make it simpler to do the right thing" in delivering care to patients.

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