What Will Happen to Health Care if a Democrat Wins the White House?

health-care

Every presidential candidate has his or her own views on how health care should look in America. As a result, when voters choose a candidate in 2016, they’re not just deciding on a POTUS … they’re deciding on a system for national health care, too.

Last week, we addressed the GOP candidates’ view on health care, so this week, we’re focusing on the Democrats. One might think that if a Democrat is elected, health care will remain largely unchanged. That’s not necessarily so, though – in fact, depending on who wins, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Hillary Clinton: Build on What Works; Change the Rest

Hillary Clinton wants to keep the ACA intact, building on “what works.” That said, she has plenty of modifications in mind. Her recently-unveiled plan would:

  • Expand coverage of sick visits
  • Expand tax credits for those with out-of-pocket expenses amounting to more than 5 percent of their income
  • Implement a “fallback process” for States that don’t regulate unreasonable rate increases

Previously, she’s also expressed intentions to:

  • Allow insurance to be sold across State lines
  • Regulate pharmaceutical companies more tightly (their advertising, notably), require them to pay higher rebates to Medicare and allow Medicare to negotiate with them on drug prices
  • Lower the cost of prescription drugs
  • Formalize paid maternity and paternity leave
  • Limit out-of-pocket costs to $250 per American, per month

In other news, Clinton is against the mergers currently brewing between Aetna and Humana, as well as Anthem and Cigna. She expressed “serious concern” that “the balance of power if moving too far away from consumers,” USA Today reported.

So, she’s calling for scrutiny. But is that exhortation likely to go anywhere? According to the Bloomberg View, doubtful. “If regulators follow the model of past deals, they will assess the combinations based on overlap in local markets,” said Bloomberg Contributor Brooke Sutherland. “That’s probably going to mean divestitures for Aetna and Humana, particularly in markets like the South and Midwest. As long as those required asset sales aren’t too onerous, Aetna should be able to close the purchase.”

Bernie Sanders: Make Health care a Human Right

Bernie Sanders, like Clinton, wants to lower drug prices and allow Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. But the similarities end there.

Sanders has “a fundamentally different vision of health care in the United States,” said Time Magazine. He supports a single-payer system like those of Canada and Western Europe, which would:

  • Establish health care as a right of American citizenship
  • Pay for health care through government spending
  • Allow for-profit insurers to provide supplemental coverage only

Easier said than done. If Sanders were elected, he wouldn’t be able to make those broad-brush goals a reality overnight – so what would he focus on first? Here are few of the details behind his plan, according to Feel the Bern.

  • Require drug manufacturers to rebate Medicaid when their price increases on drugs outpace inflation
  • Attempt to lower the costs of health care while expanding coverage to all Americans
  • Allow the government to negotiate a fee schedule with health care practitioners for basic medical services
  • Create a trust fund “financed by various tax revenues, credits and subsidies” to pay for it
  • Preserve the right of private practitioners to provide care: private delivery, public financing

As you can see, the shape of American health care may look very different with a new POTUS in the White House. (If you didn’t catch our last post on the GOP point of view, find it here.) Also, tune in for the third Republican debate tonight to hear more on the candidates’ perspectives on health care and Medicare.

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