After a long primary season, it appears that the American people will have a choice between Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, and Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee. Despite the relative uniqueness of each candidate, there’s an old proverb that says the only thing we learn from new elections is that we learned nothing from the last one. In the summer of 2016, we once again face an election where the winner may dictate the future of health care in this country. It is important to understand each candidate’s stance on health care.
In 2016, at the age of 69, Hillary Clinton became the first woman in U.S. history to become the presidential nominee of a major political party. Clinton has said that her greatest political regret was failing to pass healthcare reform in the early 1990s, clearly stating that she will fight to defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as president. In addition, she recently proposed expanding Medicare by letting Americans buy into it prior to the age of 65, indicating Americans “people age 55 or age 50 and up” should be able to voluntarily join the program which is widely considered the country’s most popular entitlement.
Clinton also expressed serious concerns about the increase in the number of mergers within in the health care industry, saying that she is “worried that the balance of power is moving too far away from consumers.”
In contrast to Clinton, Donald Trump has stated clearly his opposition to the ACA, offering the voting public a Franklin Roosevelt-like New Deal on health care. Like FDR, his statements to date have been high on promises, recently saying that he “would end Obamacare and replace it with something terrific, for
far less money for the country and for the people.”
Also in contrast to Clinton, Trump looks to free market forces to provide cost savings, supporting the federalization of insurance regulation that would allow insurance providers to offer products and services across state lines rather than being regulated, and separated on the state level. Likewise, Trump supports the expansion of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) so that the health care-buying public’s buying power incentivizes natural price controls and competition among providers and supports allowing full tax deductions for health insurance costs on personal tax returns.
Both candidates state that high drug costs are becoming an unsustainable problem. Clinton supports attacking the problem by providing public incentives to reduce the high costs of research and development of new drugs, allowing the savings to be passed on to the public. Trump, on the other hand, supports competition by allowing international imports of certain drugs to lower overall costs at home.
Much like previous elections, this one once again presents the voting public with two relatively clear choices: an expansion of public involvement in health care via defense of the ACA, Medicare growth, and public involvement in pharmaceuticals vs. an expansion of competition via repeal of the ACA, federalization of insurance regulation, and international imports of prescription drugs. Only time will tell what lessons there are to learn from
By Becky Berger