During this presidential election year, health care is one topic that every candidate has an opinion about. What does each candidate say about improving medicine in the USA? This is something everyone–especially students at American and Caribbean medical schools—should care about.
The UMHS Endeavour takes a brief look at what each candidates says he or she will do to provide better health care in America, based on reports from BallotPedia and various online sources.
Please note, the UMHS Endeavour is not endorsing any candidate for president, but we’d love to hear what you think about the various candidates’ plans for the future of American medicine.
Hillary Clinton, (Democrat): Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a website she has regrets about failing to pass health care reform back in the 1990s when she was First Lady and husband Bill Clinton was president. Secretary Clinton told Aol.com back in January this year, while gearing up for the Iowa caucus, “I regret we didn’t get health care back in 1993 or ’94, because we’d really be much further down the road,” she said. “Health care is a basic right. We are 90 percent covered, we gotta get to 100 percent, and then we gotta get cost down and make it work for everybody. And even though we didn’t get it then, we’ve got it now and I’m going to defend it and improve it.”
In addition to continuing to support the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Secretary Clinton vows to include autism coverage in Alabama and six other states where it is not mandatory in health plans. BallotPedia notes she wants to expand autism insurance and early screening.
“She would also seek to establish the Autism Works Initiative to increase the number of employed people with autism and to launch ‘the first-ever adult autism prevalence study,’ “Aol.com said.
Secretary Clinton told a local TV news station in New Hampshire back in December 2015 that she wants to spend $2 billion on “treating and preventing Alzheimer’s disease.”
Bernie Sanders. (Democrat): The Democratic Socialist senator from Vermont has become quite renowned for his “Medicare for all” platform. So what exactly does this mean?
Senator Sanders spelled out details in an interview with CBS News on January 24, 2016. “If you’re not one of the 29 million who doesn’t have any insurance, and you have a 5,000 dollar deductible, you know what that means: When you’re sick you don’t go to the doctor,” Sanders said. “One out of five people in this country cannot even fill the prescription that their doctor writes for them–that’s called rationing. The truth of the matter is that our health care outcomes are not necessarily any better than many of the other countries who are spending significantly less per capita than we are.”
A nationalized health care system (similar to ones in European nations), paid for by U.S taxpayers, is what Senator Sanders is proposing. The proposal is controversial because of the costs involved.
A Sanders campaign economist, Gerald Friedman at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said Sanders’ plan could reduce Medicare costs “by $6.3 trillion from 2017 to 2026,” BallotPedia noted.
Republicans have blasted Senator Sanders’ plan. Avik Roy, an advisor to Marco Rubio (who recently suspended his campaign), wrote in an op-ed piece in Forbes in January that the Sanders plan could “increase federal spending by around $28 trillion, or 55 percent, over the same time period.”
Donald Trump, (Republican): The outspoken, controversial celebrity billionaire received much attention for his statement on health care in fall 2015. “I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now,” Mr. Trump said.
In early March 2016, Mr. Trump released his seven-point plan for health care reform. He said his plan is based on “free market principles.” On his website, www.Donaldjtrump.com, he outlined his plans in the post “Healthcare Reform to Make America Great Again.”
Mr. Trump proposes the following:
“Completely repeal Obamacare.” He specifically wants to get rid of Obamacare’s individual mandate because “no person should be required to buy insurance unless he or she wants to.”
Mr. Trump also wants to modify the current law inhibiting sales of health insurance across state lines. “As long as the plan purchased complies with state requirements, any vendor ought to be able to offer insurance in any state,” Trump says on his website.
The idea is that full competition of the market will lower costs and increase consumer satisfaction.
Allow individuals to fully deduct health insurance premium payments on tax returns. Mr. Trump argues, “Businesses are allowed to take these deductions so why wouldn’t Congress allow individuals the same exemptions?”
Individual contributions into Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) should be tax-free and allowed to accumulate. “These accounts would become part of the estate of the individual and could be passed on to heirs without fear of any death penalty,” Mr. Trump said on his website.”These plans should be particularly attractive to young people who are healthy and can afford high-deductible insurance plans. These funds can be used by any member of a family without penalty.”
Mr. Trump wants to require price transparency from health care providers, “especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals. Individuals should be able to shop to find the best prices for procedures, exams or any other medical-related procedure.”
Medicaid funds would be allocated through block-grants to the states. “Nearly every state already offers benefits beyond what is required in the current Medicaid structure. The state governments know their people best and can manage the administration of Medicaid far better without federal overhead. States will have the incentives to seek out and eliminate fraud, waste and abuse to preserve our precious resources.”
Finally, Mr. Trump wants to make access to inexpensive foreign pharmaceuticals possible. He proposes removing barriers “to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products.”
“Congress will need the courage to step away from the special interests and do what is right for America.” Trump said on his website. “Though the pharmaceutical industry is in the private sector, drug companies provide a public service. Allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers.”
Ted Cruz, (Republican): Donald Trump’s arch rival, Texas senator Ted Cruz, primarily wants to repeal Obamacare if elected. During a Republican primary debate back in February, Senator Cruz talked about repealing Obamacare. “Socialized medicine is a disaster,” Senator Cruz said. “It does not work. If you look at the countries that have imposed socialized medicine, that have put the government in charge of providing medicine, what inevitably happens is rationing. … If I’m elected president, we will repeal every word of Obamacare. And once we do that, we will adopt common sense reforms, number one, we’ll allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines that will drive down prices and expand the availability of low cost catastrophic insurance. We’ll expand health savings accounts; and we will de-link health insurance from employment so that you don’t lose your health insurance when you lose your job, and that way health insurance can be personal, portable and affordable and we keep government from getting in between us and our doctors.”
Senator Cruz voted in favor of a Senate bill to repeal big portions of the Affordable Care Act in December 2015.
John Kasich, (Republican): Ohio Governor John Kasich also isn’t happy with Obamacare. In an interview with NPR in July 2015, Governor Kasich said, “I’d like to replace it [Affordable Care Act] with a health care system that would be market-driven, that would begin to shift us to quality-based health care rather than quantity-based health care. In other words, with the primary care doctor being the shepherd to shepherd us through our health care needs, with insurance companies and hospitals working together to share profits, to share the gains they make by keeping people healthy rather than treating them on the basis of how they’re sick.”
In January, Governor Kasich’s administration announced voluntary guidelines for short-term prescription pain medication. He told the Lexington Herald Leader that people “should be given alternatives to prescription painkillers whenever possible and be provided only the minimum amounts if absolutely needed.”
Governor Kasich is also not in favor of maternity leave. Instead, he believes women should be allowed more flexible working arrangements and the freedom to work from home online.
“The one thing we need to do for working women is to give them the flexibility to be able to work at home online. The reason why that’s important is, when women take maternity leave or time to be with the children, then what happens is they fall behind on the experience level, which means that the pay becomes a differential,” Governor Kasich said.