By Andrew Trunsky
Throughout the 2020 election, Americans have consistently listed health as one of — if not the most — important issues at hand.
In August, a Pew Research survey found that 68% of voters thought that health care was “very important” when casting their vote, and earlier this month 80% of voters said the same in response to a Gallup survey.
Though both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have repeatedly promised health care plans that will lower costs and protect preexisting conditions, their approaches share little in common.
Here is what each candidate has said about health care during the 2020 presidential campaign and what their goals would be if they win November’s election.
The president’s health care plan centers on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. His administration and congressional Republicans first tried to do so when they attempted to pass the American Health Care Act in 2017, which fell one vote short in the Senate.
Trump’s website includes the goals of lowering prescription drug prices and insurance premiums, covering preexisting conditions, and protecting social security and Medicare. It also emphasizes prioritizing private insurance that will put “patients and doctors back in charge of the health care system.”
Trump has attempted to lower drug prices via a series of executive orders signed earlier in 2020, including ones that facilitated the importation of drugs from Canada, and expanding Medicare and Medicaid services, including telehealth, to rural areas.
Despite his promises, Trump has been unable to describe his proposed plan in detail on multiple occasions. During an ABC News town hall in September, he declined to outline his plan in greater detail when pressed, instead repeatedly asserting that the Affordable Care Act as is “too expensive.”
During an unedited “60 Minutes” interview that his campaign released Wednesday, Trump failed to describe his plan in detail when pressed by Lesley Stahl.
“You promised that there was going to be a new health care package. You said that it was going to be great,” Stahl said, before adding that nobody outside of the administration has seen it.
“It is fully developed, it is going to be announced soon when we see what happens with Obamacare, which is not good,” Trump said. “It will be much less expensive than Obamacare, which is a disaster, and it will take care of people with preexisting conditions.
The Trump administration is also supporting the plaintiffs in Texas v. California, who are hoping that the ACA gets thrown out by the Supreme Court. Democrats warn that if successful, over 100 million Americans with preexisting conditions could lose their health coverage. (RELATED: The ACA Is Likely Here To Stay, Health Experts Say)
“We will make a deal, and we will have a great health care plan … that is a much better plan,” Trump said in response to Stahl after she asked what would happen if the ACA is struck down without anything to replace it.
Unlike Trump, Biden’s health care plan centers on improving and expanding the Affordable Care Act through a public option that allows more people to obtain health coverage and reduces health care costs. Biden’s public option would be offered with no premiums to Americans in states that do not offer Medicaid benefits, as long as they would qualify in other states, his campaign website says.
Like Trump’s plan, Biden’s also would work to lower drug prices for those relying on Medicare, create an independent commission responsible for reviewing and regulating drug prices, and eliminate certain tax breaks for pharmaceutical companies. Though not on his website, he has also said that undocumented immigrants would be covered under his plan, a demographic that the Affordable Care Act does not currently cover.
During the final presidential debate Thursday night, Biden said that Obamacare would become “Bidencare,” referring to his vision for an expanded Affordable Care Act that includes a public option for insurance. Under Bidencare, the former vice president said, there would still be “competition for insurance companies,” while Americans could still keep their private insurance if they so chose.
Unlike Trump, Biden supports fully funding Planned Parenthood and renounced his support for the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits most federal funding for abortions, last year.
“I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right [to an abortion] dependent on someone’s zip code,” he said last July.
Biden also supports allocating $775 towards the creation of federal childhood and elderly care programs, according to his website. He has also called for the creation of a public health jobs corps, which would employ over 100,000 health care workers in underserved areas, and supported the training of 35,000 workers who would help struggling veterans and Americans battling opioid addiction, according to NPR.
Unlike more liberal members of the Democratic party, Biden does not support a single-payer health care system, which would eliminate private insurance as a result, despite Trump’s repeatedly accusing him of doing so.
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