How the Democrats want to fix your healthcare- a review of the party platform

“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.” quote from the Democratic party platform

this post has been updated

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.

During the Democratic National Convention in August 2020 , former Vice President Joe Biden emerged from the nominating process as the choice of the presidential nominee. Biden selected Senator Kamala Harris to join him on the ticket as his vice president candidate.

What do the political parties say about healthcare?

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

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 re-approved at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

First, let’s read the introduction to the platform on health.

ENSURE THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF ALL AMERICANS

“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.”

EMERGENCY-sign
Photo by Pixabay

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.

Democrats will

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.

Democrats will

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

white capsules in front of a prescription bottle
Photo by Julie Viken on Pexels.com

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.

Democrats will

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. 

Chanelle Case Borden, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the National Cancer Institute’s Experimental Immunology Branch, vortexing DNA samples for further study.
Source: National Cancer Institute (NCI)Creator: Daniel Sone (photographer)
Date Created: September 2014

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

NIH IMAGE GALLERY

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.

Democrats will

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.

Democrats will

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

NIH IMAGE GALLERY-Credit: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health

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.

.

Democrats will

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

a man in a wheelchair

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.

Democrats will

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

Entitled, “Adding Solution to an ELISA Plate”, this image was created by CDC Microbiologist, Pamela Cassiday, MS, of the Pertussis and Diphtheria Laboratory. Since 2010, members of the CDC Pertussis and Diphtheria Laboratory have conducted training courses in Latin America on laboratory diagnosis of pertussis. This photograph of pertussis serology training, was taken during a training course in Chile, and shows a student adding a solution to an Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) plate, causing the change in color from blue to yellow. This photo earned Pamela the Second Place award in the 2013 CDC Connects Annual Public Health in Action Photo Contest, in the category of International Programs.This image is in the public domain and thus free of any copyright restrictions. As a matter of courtesy we request that the content provider be credited and notified in any public or private usage of this image.

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.

Democrats will

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

women standing with arms around each other

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.

Democrats will

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

black and silver semi automatic pistol on brown wooden table
Photo by Derwin Edwards on Pexels.com

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.

Democrats will

 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.

Where we stand

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.

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Dr. Aletha

How your health care may change under the new government

The United States voters have elected a new president and a new legislature, both Republican. Analysts expect major changes in policy and law after 8 years of Democratic control.

In a previous post, I outlined then- candidate Donald Trump’s proposals for health care reform, chief of which is repealing the Affordable Care Act (alternately known as the ACA or ObamaCare). Here is a link to that post for your review.

How your vote for president will affect your health care

Since his election, President-elect Trump says there are two features of the ACA he would like to see preserved-

  • Prohibition of insurance denial for pre-existing conditions
  • Covering young adults age 18-26 years old on their parents’ insurance plan

He confirmed this in an interview with Leslie Stahl on  November 13, 2016 which you can view here-

60 Minutes Interview : President-elect Donald Trump

 

Since he will need to work with Congress to achieve his proposals,  we should review the Republican party’s platform on health care.

While similar to the President-elect’s plan, it is broader in scope and more specific. Larry Levitt, MPP, reviewed both parties’ platforms in a recent issue of JAMA (September 6, 2016) , basing his review from the parties’ online platforms.

 

 

The Republican Platform includes:

  • Repeal of the Affordable Care Act
  • Protect insurance discrimination for preexisting conditions as long as continuous coverage is maintained
  • Allow people to buy insurance across state lines
  • Make individually purchased health insurance tax deductible
  • Limit federal spending on Medicaid, allowing the states more leeway in administering the program through block grants
  • Changes to Medicare- providing people under 55 years with a traditional Medicare option or a premium support system of competing plans; raising the age of eligibility for Medicare.

 red, white and blue Republican elephant

 

 

In comparison, the Democratic Party proposes

  • Continue building on the ACA to achieve universal health care
  • Provide a “public option” plan and allow people over age 55 years to buy-in to Medicare
  • Make premiums more affordable and reduce out-of-pocket costs to patients
  • Cap out-of-pocket monthly drug costs
  • Permit importation of lower-priced drugs from other countries
  • Allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices directly with manufacturers
  • Expand funding for community health centers
red, white and blue Democratic donkey

Mr. Levitt is Senior Vice President for Special Initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation and Co-Executive Director of the Kaiser Initiative on Health Reform and Private Insurance. He summarizes his review  this way-

“The ACA has increased insurance coverage by 20 million people and is now the status quo in our health care system. Fully repealing it would be very disruptive.

At the same time, the public remains divided on the law, so building on it will also be controversial.”

You can read his full review and  analysis here-

The Partisan Divide on Health Care

Follow this blog here and on Facebook for more updates on what will happen to our health care under a new administration. Feel free to share your opinions, ideas, and experiences here- thoughtful, considerate, and helpful comments are always welcome.