Healthcare Developments Stemming from the Republican National Convention

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Trump and Pence are united in supporting a complete repeal of the ACA

In the wake of the Republican National Convention (RNC) last month, there’s been much focus on any new developments pertaining to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s proposed healthcare plan. Apparently, Trump’s plan for the American healthcare system has not been fleshed out in much more detail since the RNC, despite a significant amount of criticism for a lack of specifics on how he’ll replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

However, one major recent development was the July 15 selection of Indiana Governor Mike Pence as Trump’s vice presidential running mate, since Pence certainly brings his own stances on healthcare to the table. To keep you informed, ADVANCE has provided an updated summary of Trump’s healthcare proposals, as well as several highlights from Pence’s record on healthcare.

Donald Trump

Despite delivering around an hour-and-15-minute-long acceptance speech at the RNC (the longest of any presidential nominee’s acceptance speech in the last four decades), Trump only briefly mentioned his plan for America’s health system should he become president.1 “We will repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare,” he said, and, “You will be able to choose your own doctor again.” Trump also promised to “take care of our great veterans like they have never been taken care of before.”2

Other than these concise statements, Trump has been criticized for not giving healthcare a greater focus during the RNC. “Rather than speak of real-world problems, like providing Americans who remain underserved following enactment of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Donald Trump spent the week telling Americans that the United States is a failed state replete with violence and chaos, and that he alone can return us to a time of domestic tranquility and economic prosperity,” a July 23 Forbes article said.3

Similarly, a July 22 article in The Philadelphia Inquirer noted, “It is not as if Trump thinks American health care is in fine shape. He has often discussed the need for major reform…So, why was there so little discussion of his health care plans, which are essential to keeping us safe from the disease and injury threats we face every day?”4

Although Trump may not have addressed healthcare to the extent many wished for during the RNC, no one is in doubt that he plans to completely repeal Obamacare upon his first day in office. To replace Obamacare, Trump has proposed a series of healthcare reforms that align with free market principles.

Specifically, these reforms include modifying existing laws that prevent the sale of health insurance across state lines, in addition to allowing individuals to fully deduct health insurance premium payments from their tax returns under the present tax system. Trump also plans to allow individuals to utilize tax-free health savings accounts (HSAs) that would become part of the estate of the individual, could be passed on to heirs without fear of any death penalty, and could be used by any family member.5

Trump would require price transparency for all healthcare providers – particularly doctors and healthcare organizations such as clinics and hospitals. He plans on turning Medicaid into a block-grant program, which means that states will manage Medicaid without any federal overhead. He intends to allow foreign drug companies to enter the market in order to increase competition and reduce the price of prescription drugs. Similar to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump has also proposed allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.5

The official Trump-Pence campaign site also states that enforcing immigration laws will help ease the economic burden experienced by Americans. According to the site, providing healthcare to illegal immigrants costs the U.S. around $11 billion each year. “If we were to simply enforce the current immigration laws and restrict the unbridled granting of visas to this country, we could relieve healthcare cost pressures on state and local governments,” the site says.5

Among his other proposals, Trump has called to reform mental health programs and institutions. He also plans to establish programs that will grow the economy in an effort to reduce the number of individuals who require access to offerings such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

More recently, Trump called for improved healthcare for veterans in his speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Charlotte, N.C., a July 26 USA Today article reported. One part of the plan is a new White House “hotline” that veterans can use to report complaints against the healthcare system. Trump has stated that he will personally acknowledge legitimate complaints that have not been addressed.6

Mike Pence

Meanwhile, Gov. Pence’s stances on healthcare are particularly worthy of notice because, unlike Trump, he has a legislative record to demonstrate them. Before becoming governor of Indiana in 2013, Pence served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013.

Like Trump, Pence supports a complete repeal of the ACA. However, he established a conservative version of the Medicaid expansion in Indiana, in which Medicaid members have to pay a monthly premium based on their income into an HSA. Those who fail to make a payment can be moved to a lower level of coverage, or lose coverage completely, for six months.8 According to a July 21 National Public Radio article, although Pence received some criticism from the right for establishing an element of Obamacare, his conservative spin on the Medicaid program has several other states led by Republicans noticing his model.8

Additionally, though Trump has said that Planned Parenthood has been a great help to women and had previously been a supporter of abortion rights, Pence has consistently opposed abortion, according to U.S. News & World Report. While serving in Congress, Pence introduced a bill that would remove federal funds from Planned Parenthood so long as centers associated with the organization continued to perform abortions. He reintroduced the bill until it passed the House in 2011. As governor of Indiana, Pence has continued his efforts against abortion.7

In 2015, a county in Indiana experienced a major HIV outbreak due to injected drug use. Though he initially resisted, Pence eventually signed an emergency declaration that allowed for the formation of needle exchange programs in that particular county. Other counties are required to ask permission to implement needle exchange programs. Pence has also said that the federal government can assist states in the fight against the epidemic by providing funds for treatment programs for those dealing with addiction. He and 45 other governors signed a compact declaring that they would increase their efforts to combat the epidemic by allowing greater access to overdose-reversal drugs, among other measures.7

According to U.S. News & World Report, Pence’s record indicates that he is opposed to allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices – unlike Trump. Pence’s view appears to align with many other Republicans who believe that allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices might restrict innovation and access to lifesaving drugs.7

Ultimately, whether or not Americans believe Trump and Pence offer the best strategy for renovating the U.S. healthcare system – alongside many other important issues – will be revealed at the polls.

References

  1. USA Today. Was Trump’s Speech the Longest Ever?http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2016/07/21/donald-trump-longest-convention-speech/87425842/
  2. Healthcare IT News. Donald Trump Vows to Repeal Obamacare, Promising Americans ‘Can Choose Your Doctor Again’ at RNC. http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/donald-trump-vows-repeal-obamacare-promising-americans-can-choose-your-doctor-again-rnc
  3. Forbes. According to Mr. Trump: It’s Chaos in America, But Paul Ryan’s Healthcare Plan Will Do Just Fine. http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnosborn/2016/07/23/according-to-mr-trump-its-chaos-in-america-but-paul-ryans-healthcare-plan-will-do-just-fine/#77f5c0a22099
  4. The Philadelphia Inquirer. Trump Promised Law and Order in His Speech – But No Health Care.http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/health-cents/Trump-promised-law-and-order-in-his-speech–but-no-health-care.html
  5. Donald J. Trump. Healthcare Reform to Make America Great Again.https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/healthcare-reform
  6. USA Today. Trump Pledges Better Veterans Health Care, Bashes Clinton at VFW Meeting.http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/07/26/donald-trump-vfw-speech-charlotte/87561198/
  7. U.S. News & World Report. Pence’s Record on Health Care, From Opioids to Stem Cell Research.http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-07-20/pence-on-health-care-smoking-abortion-opioids-stem-cell-research
  8. National Public Radio. As Indiana Governor, Mike Pence’s Health Policy Has Been Contentious.http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/07/21/486771345/as-indiana-governor-mike-pence-s-health-policy-has-been-contentious
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Kirsten Malenke
Kirsten Malenke

Kirsten Malenke is a staff writer at ADVANCE. Contact kmalenke@advanceweb.com.

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