Americans headed to the polls to elect a president this week. In the midst of a pandemic that has upended lives across the globe, healthcare has been at the forefront of both candidate’s agendas for months. Depending on who wins, there could be serious repercussions in many aspects of healthcare—including women’s rights, racism/sexism and saddling Americans with increasing medical debt.
Political party differences on health care are generally summed up as this: Democrats want wider-ranging healthcare coverage and expect the government to play a bigger role in controlling costs and creating market equity, while Republicans prefer privatized health care and a smaller governmental role. Democrats want the focus to be on human rights, while the Trump administration has endorsed policies that marginalize women, people of color and other groups. While as a general rule of thumb these ideological differences are accurate, the pandemic has blurred those lines a bit more.
Here are the biggest issues at stake in the 2020 presidential election:
- COVID-19. The Trump administration has come under attack for its handling of the coronavirus, generally ignoring the advice of the scientific community and presenting contradictory messages on topics including masks and unproven remedies. Trump is suggesting the U.S. will leave the World Health Organization. Biden and Harris, by contrast, have formulated a detailed coronavirus plan that includes reliable testing and personal protective equipment, and establishing new safeguards to lessen the impacts of COVID-19. Additionally, Harris is championing the passage of a Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force Act in order to provide more equality for patients of all races and creeds.
- Healthcare accessibility. Not only has the Trump administration made no secret their effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but they have already gotten rid of the mandate making individual health insurance mandatory and are proposing insurance companies be allowed to resume discriminating based on medical history. Biden was instrumental in helping to enact the ACA under the Obama administration and plans to enhance it while also improving Medicare through the addition of a public option for consumers and a more affordable private insurance option.
- Healthcare equity. There has been no forward progress made toward eliminating racial disparity in health care under the current administration, while BIden and Harris are proposing a plan that would provide tax credits for those falling below the poverty line, expanding coverage for low-income families and supporting community health centers.
- Women’s rights. The Trump administration’s attempt to repeal the ACA in 2017 would have removed basic care provisions for women. Additionally, they have attacked Roe v. Wade, eliminated Title X funding for Planned Parenthood and are pushing through legislation allowing employers to deny birth control coverage for religious or moral objections. Biden’s Agenda for Women promises to “further women’s economic and physical security and ensure that women can fully exercise their civil rights.”
- Pharmaceutical costs. President Trump has vowed to tackle high pharmaceutical prices but his administration has reversed course several times and legislation aimed at reducing costs passed through the House but was defeated in the Senate.