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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The Point of It All, A NEW BOOK by Dr. Krauthammer

I admired and followed Dr. Charles Krauthammer’s writing and was sad when he passed away this year.So I was pleased to learn that he has published a new book, The Point of It All. He started the book prior to his illness and finished it with the help of his son Daniel, who wrote the introduction and edited it.

I admired and followed Dr. Charles Krauthammer’s writing and was sad when he passed away this year.


Spanning the personal, political and philosophical — including never-before-published speeches and a major new essay about the effect of today’s populist movements on the future of global democracy — this is the most profound book yet by the legendary writer and thinker.

My review of his memoir THINGS THAT MATTER has been one of my most viewed posts. If you haven’t read it I recommend it as well as his newest and unfortunately his last work. I know it’s on my list to read in 2019. 

Matt Winesett offers this review of the new book

Charles Krauthammer’s Uncommon Greatness

In memory of Charles Krauthammer, M.D. 

I don’t remember the first time I read an article by Charles Krauthammer but once I did, I never missed a chance to read more. Dr. Krauthammer recently passed away from cancer and I among many mourn his passing.

His Washington Post syndicated column appeared in my local newspaper on Saturdays;  I would read it aloud at breakfast so my husband and I could discuss it.

DR. CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER-IN MEMORIAM-WWW.WATERCRESSWORDS.COM

Invariably, there would be one or two words or phrases we didn’t understand so I would look up the definition- this despite  both of us having graduate degrees.  We were alternately entertained, enlightened, and enthralled by his way with words.

As a physician, I am intrigued and inspired knowing  Dr. Krauthammer completed medical school and residency after and despite sustaining a spinal cord injury which caused quadriplegia (paralysis from the neck down, preventing use of his arms and legs).   (This no doubt made his treatment and recovery from cancer surgery all the more difficult.) 

In his memoir, he explained how a caring professor did whatever it took to help him get through medical school after his injury, including lectures at his bedside while he was still hospitalized.

He did not use “M.D.” or the title “Dr.” after he changed his career from psychiatry to journalism, but I think he should have, he earned it.  He mostly wrote about politics and social issues but occasionally would address medical issues. (These and others in this post are affiliate links to Dr. Krauthammer’s books. )

Here are excerpts from a sampling of his Washington Post columns that discuss medical issues. 

After watching videos in which  The price of fetal parts was discussed over lunch, Dr. Krauthammer wrote

“Abortion critics have long warned that the problem is not only the obvious — what abortion does to the fetus — but also what it does to us. It’s the same kind of desensitization that has occurred in the Netherlands with another mass exercise in life termination: assisted suicide. It began as a way to prevent the suffering of the terminally ill. It has now become so widespread and wanton that one-fifth of all Dutch assisted-suicide patients are euthanized without their explicit consent.

ultrasound image of a 4 month old fetus
a prenatal ultrasonographic image of fetus at the four-month point in its gestation; public domain image used courtesy of the CDC/ Jim Gathany

There is more division about the first trimester because one’s views of the early embryo are largely a matter of belief, often religious belief. One’s view of the later-term fetus, however, is more a matter of what might be called sympathetic identification — seeing the image of a recognizable human infant and, now, hearing from the experts exactly what it takes to “terminate” its existence.

The role of democratic politics is to turn such moral sensibilities into law. This is a moment to press relentlessly for a national ban on late-term abortions.”

After Another massacre, another charade  he said this about guns and laws about them.

gun metal barrel
Photo by Somchai Kongkamsri on Pexels.com

“So with the Roseburg massacre in Oregon. Within hours, President Obama takes to the microphones to furiously denounce the National Rifle Association and its ilk for resisting “common-sense gun-safety laws.” His harangue is totally sincere, totally knee-jerk and totally pointless. At the time he delivers it, he — and we — know practically nothing about the shooter, nothing about the weapons, nothing about how they were obtained.

In the final quarter of his presidency, Obama can very well say what he wants. If he believes in Australian-style confiscation — i.e., abolishing the Second Amendment — why not spell it out? Until he does, he should stop demonizing people for not doing what he won’t even propose.”

In this tongue-in-cheek (pardon the pun)  post Food fads: Make mine gluten-full

 he “preaches skepticism” about most current dietary advice.

various types of bread
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“Exhibit A for medical skepticism, however, remains vitamin C. When Linus Pauling, Nobel laureate in chemistry (not nutrition), began the vitamin-C megadose fad to fend off all manner of disease, the whole thing struck me as bizarre. Yes, you need some C to prevent scurvy if you’re seven months at sea with Capt. Cook and citrus is nowhere to be found. Otherwise, the megadose is a crock. Evolution is pretty clever. For 2 million years it made sure Homo erectus, neanderthalensis, sapiens, what have you, got his daily dose without having to visit a GNC store.

Sure enough, that fashion came and went. But there are always new windmills to be tilted at. The latest is gluten.

Now, if you suffer from celiac disease, you need a gluten-free diet. How many of us is that? Less than 1 percent. And yet supermarket shelves are groaning with products proclaiming their gluten-freedom. Sales are going through the roof.”

Charles Krauthammer-THINGS THAT MATTER
available as an audiobook from the iTunes Store

I enjoyed listening to  Dr. Krauthammer’s memoir THINGS THAT MATTER: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes, and Politics  

His book is a collection of  his more memorable opinion pieces as well as a memoir of his life, including medical school, his life-changing injury, psychiatric medical practice, his  journalism career, hobbies (chess and baseball) and life with his family.

According to Amazon-

Now, finally, the best of Krauthammer’s intelligence, erudition and wit are collected in one volume.”

In his last piece for The Washington Post, barely two weeks before his death, Dr. Krauthammer wrote,

“I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.”

I am sad he left, but grateful that he shared his “intelligence, erudition, and wit” with the world.  May we all find the loves and endeavors that make life worth living and live intentional lives as well as he did.

Tributes to Dr. Krauthammer, a few of many

from the NATIONAL REVIEWCharles Krauthammer, R.I.P.

from THE NEW YORK TIMES – The Example of Charles Krauthammer

from the WEEKLY STANDARDThe Quick Wit of Charles Krauthammer

Please share this post and share about your recollections of  Dr. Krauthammer’s work.

Thanks for exploring the HEART of health with me. Dr. Aletha

stethoscope with a heart