If you consider health care an important issue for the upcoming presidential election this year, you are in good company. In a Gallup poll December 2019, 81% of those surveyed considered it very or extremely important. Following closely in importance were terrorism/national security , gun policy, and education.
As of March 5, two candidates have survived the caucuses and primaries- former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders. They both have health care plans which reflect the basic position of the Democratic party.
What do the political parties say about healthcare?
So we’ll focus on the two major party platforms and see what they say about health care. My intent is to present a non-partisan review since this blog does not endorse any party or candidate. If my reviews seem biased toward any specific viewpoint, that is unintentional.
I’ll summarize what I consider the highlights but encourage you to read the entire documents. I’ll include points that express the party’s positions as well as its proposals.
The Democratic Platform on health
Since they are the challengers this year, I will start with the Democratic party platform; the Republican position will be in a separate post.
The photos are for illustration only and are not associated with the platform or the party.
This party platform was voted on and passed by the membership at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016. The platform will be updated and re-approved at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
First, let’s read the introduction to the platform on health.
“Democrats have been fighting to secure universal health care for the American people for generations, and we are proud to be the party that passed Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Being stronger together means finally achieving that goal. We are going to fight to make sure every American has access to quality, affordable health care.
We will tackle the problems that remain in our health care system, including cracking down on runaway prescription drug prices and addressing mental health with the same seriousness that we treat physical health. We will fight Republican efforts to roll back the clock on women’s health and reproductive rights, and stand up for Planned Parenthood. And we will tackle the epidemics of substance abuse and gun violence, which each claim tens of thousands of lives every year.”
Securing Universal Health Care
Democrats believe that health care is a right, not a privilege, and our health care system should put people before profits.
Americans should be able to access public coverage through a public option and those over 55 should be able to opt in to Medicare.
empower the states to use innovation waivers under the ACA to develop unique locally tailored approaches to health coverage
work to end other practices that lead to out-of-control medical debt , repeal the excise tax on high-cost health insurance, reducing out-of-pocket expenses, and capping prescription drug costs
fight against insurers trying to impose excessive premium increases
fight any attempts by Republicans to privatize, voucherize, or phase out Medicare as we know it
oppose Republican plans to slash funding and block grant Medicaid and SNAP
keep fighting until the ACA’s Medicaid expansion has been adopted in every state
Supporting Community Health Centers
We must renew and expand our commitment to Community Health Centers, as well as community mental health centers and family planning centers.
double funding for federally qualified community health centers over the next decade, to include primary care, mental health care, dental care, and low cost prescription drugs
fight to train and support public health workforce
encourage providers to work with underserved populations
create a comprehensive strategy to increase the pool of primary health care professionals
Reducing Prescription Drug Costs
Democrats are committed to investing in the research, development, and innovation that creates lifesaving drugs and lowers overall health costs, but the profiteering of pharmaceutical companies is simply unacceptable.
crack down on price gouging by drug companies
cap the amount Americans have to pay out-of-pocket every month on prescription drugs
prohibit anti-competitive “pay for delay” deals that keep generic drugs off the market
allow individuals, pharmacists, and wholesalers to import prescription drugs from licensed pharmacies in Canada and other countries with appropriate safety protections.
Cutting-Edge Medical Research
Democrats believe we must
accelerate the pace of medical progress, ensuring that we invest more in our scientists and give them the resources they need to invigorate our fundamental studies in the life sciences in a growing, stable, and predictable way
make progress against the full range of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, HIV and AIDS, cancer, and other diseases, especially chronic ones
recognize the critical importance of a fully-funded National Institutes of Health to accelerate the pace of medical progress
Combating Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Democrats want to
confront the epidemic of drug and alcohol addiction, specifically the opioid crisis and other drugs plaguing our communities
expand access to prevention and treatment, supporting recovery
help community organizations, and promoting better practices by prescribers
encourage full recovery and integration into society of those struggling with addiction working to remove common barriers to gainful employment, housing, and education
fight to expand access to care for addiction services, and ensure that insurance coverage is equal to that for any other health conditions
do more to educate our youth, as well as their families, teachers, coaches, mentors, and friends, to intervene early to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and addiction
help state and local leaders establish evidence-based, age-appropriate, and locally-tailored prevention programs
Treating Mental Health
We must treat mental health issues with the same care and seriousness that we treat issues of physical health, support a robust mental health workforce, and promote better integration of the behavioral and general health care systems. Recognizing that maintaining good mental health is critical to all people, including young people’s health and development.
work with health professionals to ensure that all children have access to mental health care
expand community-based treatment for substance abuse disorders and mental health conditions and fully enforce our parity law
create a national initiative around suicide prevention across the lifespan—to move toward the HHS-promoted Zero Suicide commitment
Supporting Those Living with Autism and their Families
Democrats believe that our country must make supporting the millions of individuals with autism and those diagnosed in the future and their families a priority.
conduct a nationwide early screening outreach campaign to ensure that all children, and in particular children from underserved backgrounds, can get screened for autism
expand services and support for adults and individuals transitioning into adulthood, including employment and housing assistance
push states to require health insurance coverage for autism services in private insurance plans as well as state marketplaces so that people with autism are not denied care
Securing Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice
Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice. We believe unequivocally that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion.
stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide critical health services to millions of people
continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment
combat any acts of violence, harassment, and intimidation of reproductive health providers, patients, and staff
defend the ACA, which extends affordable preventive health care to women, including no-cost contraception, and prohibits discrimination in health care based on gender
address the discrimination and barriers that inhibit meaningful access to reproductive health care services, including those based on gender, sexuality, race, income, disability, and other factors
support a woman’s decision to have a child, including by ensuring a safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth, and by providing services during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including adoption and social support services, as well as protections for women against pregnancy discrimination
We are committed to creating a society where children are safe and can thrive physically, emotionally, educationally, and spiritually. We recognize and support the importance of civil structures that are essential to creating this for every child
Ensuring Long-Term Care, Services, and Supports
Our country faces a long-term care crisis that prevents too many seniors and people with disabilities from being able to live with dignity at home or in their communities. The vast majority of people who are aging or living with a disability want to do so at home, but face challenges finding and affording the support they need to do so.
take steps to strengthen and expand the home care workforce
give seniors and people with disabilities access to quality, affordable long-term care, services, and supports
ensure that all of these resources are readily available at home or in the community
Protecting and Promoting Public Health
Investment in our nation’s crumbling public health infrastructure is critical to ensuring preparedness for emerging threats; for preventing disease, illness, and injury in communities; and for promoting good health and wellbeing.
continue to oppose Republican attempts to cut public health services and funding
ensure adequate funding of public health education at the undergraduate, graduate, and medical school levels as well as adequate funding of residency training programs in public health, preventive medicine, and its subspecialties
fight for increased investments and coordination in public health to better address emerging threats as well as persistent needs across our country
pursue policies addressing these social factors (that cause poor health) and empowering communities to respond to their most pressing health needs
Ending Violence Against Women
Democrats are committed to ending the scourge of violence against women wherever it occurs —whether in our homes, streets, schools, military, or elsewhere.
continue to support the Violence Against Women Act to provide law enforcement with the tools it needs to combat this problem
support comprehensive services for survivors of violence and increase prevention efforts in our communities and on our campuses
provide comprehensive support to survivors, and ensure a fair process for all on-campus disciplinary proceedings and in the criminal justice system
increase sexual violence prevention education programs that cover issues like consent and bystander intervention, not only in college, but also in secondary school
Preventing Gun Violence
Democrats believe that we must finally take sensible action to address gun violence. While responsible gun ownership is part of the fabric of many communities, too many families in America have suffered from gun violence.
expand and strengthen background checks and close dangerous loopholes in our current laws
repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) to revoke the dangerous legal immunity protections gun makers and sellers now enjoy; and
keep weapons of war—such as assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines (LCAM’s)—off our streets
fight back against attempts to make it harder for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to revoke federal licenses from law breaking gun dealers, and ensure guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists, intimate partner abusers, other violent criminals, and those with severe mental health issues
Here is the link to the party platform which I encourage you to read for yourself.
exploring the HEART of healthcare change
I appreciate your interest in the politics of healthcare, an issue that is vital to all of us every day. These proposals will become more focussed and debated as election day approaches; the national election is Tuesday November 3, 2020. Please exercise your right to vote, I intend to.
I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.