8 Healthcare Topics to Track in an Election Year
Presidential campaigns are full of speeches, promises, slogans and rallies. Candidates fly back and forth across the country talking about what they would do if elected President. While this year’s race for the White House has been anything but traditional, it’s still important to listen to what the candidates are saying – especially about health care – to have an idea of what they might do if they win. Here are eight things this year’s candidates are saying about healthcare:
The debate over Obamacare continues into its seventh year unabated. With Trump calling for repeal of the 2010 law and Clinton pushing to go further to reduce patients out of pocket costs, this fight shows no signs of being settled anytime soon. Watching most closely: the 20 million Americans who have gained coverage under the law since 2014.
2. Drug pricing
The rise in prescription drug prices has been highlighted by candidates from both parties. Clinton and Trump have promised to require Medicare to negotiate prices. Both candidates also have promised to allow Americans to “re-import” drugs from other countries at lower prices, despite FDA concerns about the risks of expired, contaminated or incorrectly labeled products. Manufacturers are focusing policymakers on the value drugs provide in improving people’s health and reducing their overall healthcare costs.
3. Healthcare mergers and inversions
Pending mergers in the health insurance industry along with continued consolidation among hospitals and large physician practices has drawn attention. On a separate but related issue, several candidates have sharply criticized moves, known as inversions by U.S. companies to merge with foreign entities and relocate their corporate headquarters to countries with lower tax rates.
4. The future of Medicare
Citing forecasts that Medicare’s trust funds will go broke in the next decade or so, some have called for changes ranging from raising the retirement age (currently 65) to restructuring the program into a type of voucher for private insurance. Clinton and Trump have promised not to cut Medicare spending.
5. The future of Medicaid
Trump has proposed turning the program over to the states in the form of a block grant, while Clinton wants it to remain an entitlement program and expand it further.
6. Investing in medical research
Faced with an aging population, candidates have called for more spending on research for diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, primarily by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). There has been bipartisan support for President Obama’s cancer “moonshot” initiative headed by Vice President Joe Biden.
7. Opioids, deterrents, and treatment
Candidates of both parties have paid close attention to the overuse of painkilling opioids. Calls for more access to drug treatment have been paired with proposals to tighten FDA’s approval processes and more prevention through deterrents and changes in physicians’ prescribing practices. Some patient advocates have expressed concerns about limited access to pain medications, while some candidates have suggested access to drug treatment, prevention through deterrents, such as changes in a physician’s prescribing practices, and tighter FDA approval process.
8. Trade agreements
There have been heated debates over trade agreements – old and new – with Trump and Clinton calling for the defeat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement but for very different reasons. Trump thinks it’s a bad deal for American businesses while Clinton is pushing for more protections for labor.