Comparing Presidential Healthcare Campaign Policy Positions

Manatt on Health

Healthcare is one of several key issues on voters’ minds in the upcoming presidential election. According to a June CNN poll, healthcare is near the top of Americans’ key concerns heading into the election on Tuesday, November 3, with 69% of respondents ranking it as either “extremely” or “very” important to their vote for president.

Manatt Health provides an infographic comparing the key healthcare policy positions of President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee.

  • Healthcare Reform. Biden has proposed a new federal public option plan and increased Marketplace subsidies; since Biden became the presumptive nominee, his policies have moved to the left, and he has more recently announced his support for a Medicare eligibility expansion to Americans over 60 years old. In 2016, Trump campaigned on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the Trump Administration supports overturning the ACA.
  • COVID-19. In the short and medium term, federal policy action is likely to focus on addressing immediate healthcare needs and the economic fallout of COVID-19 by providing additional stimulus funding and regulatory flexibility. Both candidates have released COVID-19 response plans outlining policy and guidance for accelerating testing, treatment and economic recovery. However, Trump and Biden differ with respect to the role of the federal government versus state governments in responding to the epidemic, and on steps to facilitate economic reopening.
  • Prescription Drug Pricing. Both candidates have released detailed plans that aim to lower prescription drug prices—a subject which has been debated during the current Congress. Biden’s plan focuses on Medicare negotiations and restricting price increases. The Trump Administration has focused on reducing out-of-pocket costs through administrative action and supporting legislative efforts to redesign the Medicare Part D benefit. Trump’s stance on allowing Medicare to negotiate prices is less clear.
  • Substance Use Disorders and the Opioid Crisis. Both candidates have outlined their support for policies to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for negligence and to fund local public health interventions. Biden has proposed decriminalizing drug offenses and increasing mental health resources, while Trump has focused on securing borders to reduce the supply of illicit drugs.
  • Health Equity. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the urgent need to address health disparities. Biden has provided plans to improve disparities across geography, race and ethnicity; the Trump Administration has largely focused on rural health needs.

When reviewing the candidates’ positions, it’s important to note that presidential platforms are largely aspirational and policy positions often evolve once candidates take office. In addition, while the candidates can make campaign promises now, legislation is required for the majority of major healthcare reforms proposed by Biden and Trump. The makeup of Congress will impact how much of the President’s agenda is actually enacted into law. Additionally, courts can thwart administrative and legislative actions, as we have seen with the continued litigation over the ACA during both the Obama and Trump administrations.

Click here to view Manatt’s new infographic comparing the presidential candidates’ healthcare policy positions.

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