As we reach 56 weeks before the 2020 elections, candidates have detailed their proposals for improving the health of the nation and have discussed them during the recent debates. Voters have understandably placed healthcare in their top concerns when choosing a candidate. The top five candidates rank in the order of Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg.
- Elizabeth Warren MA Senator
Warrens stance on healthcare is in defense of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid from republican attacks. Warren supports Medicare for All, which would provide all Americans with a public health care program.
Other Focus Areas:
- Lower the cost of prescription drugs through Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act, allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to manufacture generic drugs to combat drug prices that have spiked due to high demand and limited producers.
- Prioritize mental health through the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act where insurance companies would be held accountable for providing adequate mental health services and ensure American’s rights are protected as guaranteed by law.
- Fighting the opioid crisis with the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, investing 100 billion in federal funding to fight the epidemic by providing funds for addiction treatment in affected communities.
- Protecting access to healthcare in rural areas by increasing funding to community health centers, fighting hospital mergers that primarily push rural hospitals out of business, and investing in future healthcare workforces with well-established apprenticeships.
- Joe Biden Former Vice President
Former Vice President Joe Biden has put two areas at the core of his health care platform: Insurance and drug prices.
Biden wants to protect and build on Obamacare/ACA by adding a public option. The key component to his healthcare proposal revolves on Obamacare, not creating drastic structural changes, stating that the ACA was a historical feat. His main additions to the ACA are to give Americans more choice in the form of a public option like Medicare, reducing healthcare cost, and making the healthcare system less complex to navigate through.
Biden vows to stop the abuse of drug companies and to cut drug prices. One key step in fighting the high prices is by repealing the laws that ban Medicare from negotiating lower prices with pharmaceuticals. With such an action, companies will be forced to regulate the drug prices and prevent manufacturers with no competition from placing prices so high. Additionally, Biden proposes allowing consumers to buy lower priced medications from other countries.
- Bernie Sanders VT Senator
Bernie Sanders is another candidate who has healthcare at their core and also supports Medicare-for-all. While Bernie has been seen as the farthest left-leaning candidate in many cases, many support his approach to ensuring all Americans have access to medical treatment and healthcare.
Sanders also wants to tackle the important issue of drug prices, he proposes lowering prices through negotiating with pharmaceuticals with the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act, by allowing low-cost prescription drugs to be bought from Canada and other countries through the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act, and by fixing drug prices to an average based off of five major nations (Canada, UK, France, Germany and Japan) through the Prescription Drug Relief Act.
Sanders is currently taking a step un unchartered territory by proposing to eliminate existing past due medical debt, which currently stands at $81 billion nationally.
- Kamala Harris CA District Attorney
Harris believes healthcare is a right, not a privilege and wants all Americans to have access to healthcare. The California DA has proposed a version of Medicare for All. This plan expands on the established policy enacted by Obamacare and would eventually transition to a nationwide Medicare system over the next ten years. Both public and private options will be available for all.
Other Focus Areas:
- Tackling the pharmaceutical companies and lowering prescription drug prices through mandating the Department of Health and Human Services to set a fair price for drugs based on OECD countries. Harris is even willing to take executive action should congress hesitate in ensuring the American people have access to lower prescription medications.
- Ensure the women’s reproductive rights are protected and extended by nominating Justices that agree with Roe v. Wade, securing Plan Parenthood’s ability to function, and addressing racial disparities in the healthcare system.
- Pete Buttigieg South Bend, Indiana Mayor
Buttigieg’s proposal for healthcare come 2020 centers on “Medicare-for-all who want it”, a memorable phrase from the debate stage. The Medicare for All Who Want It plan will allow everyone to opt in to an affordable, comprehensive public alternative plan, without mandating people to buy in. This affordable public plan will incentivize private insurers to compete on price and bring down costs and would eventually lead to a single-payer health care system.
Other Focus Areas:
- Improving mental health and combatting addiction by reaching a mental health parity, where mental health and substance abuse disorders are treated with the same priority as physical conditions. Buttigieg would see that health plans providers and insurance companies will face fines and penalties should they violate meeting these standards. Regarding addiction, Buttigieg pledges a $100 million grant for affected communities, to hold companies that exacerbated the opioid crisis accountable, and to expand naloxone programs to all 50 states.
- Focus on healthcare in rural states by reducing care shortages in rural areas by training homegrown healthcare workers, invest heavily in telehealth, and expand transportation services to Americans in need.
- Make medicine affordable by cutting out of pocket spending for seniors, capping monthly prescription spending under the proposed healthcare policy to $250, and reduce the cost of life saving drugs like naloxone and insulin.
- Reach out to the 2020 candidates and let them know what you care about!
- Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg.
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Photo by Natasha Spencer