In a presidential race that probably will remain too close to call right up to Election Day, Ohio could determine the fate of health-care reform.
“All eyes are on Ohio,” David Gergen, senior policy analyst for cable television network CNN and former presidential adviser, said in a phone interview Monday afternoon.
Gergen is scheduled to be among the featured national experts coming to Akron on Wednesday to talk about the presidential election and health-care reform during the Summa Health System 2012 Community Leadership Briefing.
The passage of “Obamacare” has become an extremely partisan issue, pushing Republicans to turn out in large numbers for Gov. Mitt Romney to repeal it and Democrats to go to the polls and vote for President Barack Obama to keep it, said Gergen, an adviser to four former presidents.
“Health care could cut in favor of Obama in a state like Ohio,” he said. “I find among single women with children, especially those who are middle income or lower middle income, access to health care is pretty darn vital. They always feel like they’re one pink slip away from losing coverage. There are a number of people who feel they’re going to get coverage.”
Obama wants to win re-election to keep health-care reform — an issue that is “very central to his legacy,” Gergen said.
And Romney has pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act — an action that Gergen said “becomes difficult” without enough Republican votes in the Senate.
“My sense is the fight may well come over the funding of various elements of it,” he said.
Whoever ultimately wins the presidency likely will win by a small margin and might not actually win the popular vote, Gergen said. Right now, national polls have Romney ahead by a modest margin in the popular vote but give Obama a slight lead in the Electoral College votes — the ones that actually count.
The other featured speakers for Wednesday’s event include Louis Sullivan, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Greg Moody, director of the Ohio Office of Health Transformation.
However, travel may be an issue because of Hurricane Sandy for Gergen, who is in Boston.
“It’s our hope that Mr. Gergen will be able to make it to Akron, but we understand given the current weather that might not be possible,” Summa spokesman Mike Bernstein said. “We are currently making every effort to determine if live-streaming video is an option.”
The free event will take place at the Akron-Summit County Public Library, 60 S. High St. Registration and breakfast will begin at 8 a.m., with the program starting at 8:30 a.m.
The deadline to sign up for the event is 4 p.m. today. For more information or to register, call 330-375-3159 or email vardimanb@summa health.org.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.