Where Do Trump and Biden Stand on Health Care?

By Holly Bieler
Updated on 13. Oct. 2020

Where Biden and Trump come out on some of our country's top health care issues.

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There will be no lack of significant issues on the ballot this November, and healthcare is certainly high among them. As with most aspects of their platform, Democratic challenger for the presidency Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump have mounted vastly different arguments when it comes to issues of health, from who should pay for health insurance to how to handle pandemic relief during covid-19.

Below, we’ve put together a helpful guide to understanding the candidates’ positions on some of the country’s most pressing healthcare issues.

Health Insurance

Donald Trump

A central tenet of Trump’s 2016 campaign was the swift repeal of the ACA, which would be replaced, he promised, with something “much better”. Four years later, however, and this “much better” system of insuring America’s millions has yet to come to fruition. The administration has yet to release an actable plan to replace Obamacare, and without anything to replace it, numerous attempts to repeal the ACA have been shut down in the senate. In the interim, he’s been utilizing executive powers and congressional initiatives to weaken those parts of the ACA which congress Republicans have long rallied against, namely the individual mandate and increased spending. During his term, Trump has eliminated the penalty imposed on people who do not have insurance, and has also cut funding and defunded programs associated with the ACA.

On the campaign trail, Trump has continued to say he will put forth an alternative plan. 

Joe Biden

As vice president under Barack Obama, Biden played a key role in drafting and passing the administration’s Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) in 2010, a federal statute which mandated that each American had health care, and aimed to make coverage more accessible and affordable. Under the ACA, an insurance marketplace was created, Medicare was extended, and subsidies were put in place to lower coverage rates for low-income people, among other elements. Under the ACA, about 23 million people are currently insured. 

No surprise here that Biden has committed to keeping the ACA in place if he is elected, with a number of platform promises that will bolster it. Biden has said he will spend more nation dollars on the ACA and expand the eligibility requirements for paid subsidies for low-income families.

He’s also committed to a Medicare-like option for small businesses, and people who don’t have or can’t afford coverage.

Prescription Drug Costs

Donald Trump

Lowering prescription drug costs was another important part of Trump’s 2016 platform, and one in which his administration has made some headway. Last year, Trump issued an executive order requiring hospital and health insurance companies to publish their negotiated prices for health services, numbers which had never usually been shared, in an attempt to increase transparency in drug pricing and therefore lower costs. In mid-September of this year, Trump also issued an expansive executive order aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs, although industry experts are still unclear if the executive order can be enforced. He has also promised to send out $200 discount cards for Medicare recipients to help pay for prescriptions.

Joe Biden

Like Trump, lowering prescription costs is an important part of Biden’s campaign. What’s different, not surprisingly, is that Biden believes in more government spending and oversight to get there. He endorsed legislation approved by Congress last year that allows Medicare to negotiate on drug prices, supports lifting bans on importing drugs at lower cost, and has advocated for an independent review board to set price caps on new medications.
 

Covid-19

Donald Trump

Like many other world leaders, Trump has focused his administration’s energies and messaging on the creation and production of a covid-19 vaccine as the best way to stop the spread of the virus. Operation Warpspeed was launched by the administration in May to help expedite the vaccine response, and in recent testimony, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said vaccines could be ready as early as December.

When it comes to pandemic policy, Trump has distinguished himself from most other world leaders, and the advice of scientists and doctors, by adopting a strict laissez-faire approach. Like other key figures in his party, Trump has preached a doctrine of “self-accountability” meaning people should be left to themselves to keep their families and communities safe, with limited government intervention. He has consistently castigated business and school closures as unnecessary, even amidst rising cases, and distancing measures as unnecessary, even holding mass events inside. Before he contracted the coronavirus himself in early October, President Trump also shunned wearing masks in public, which epidemiologists have consistently said is one of the easiest ways to slow transmission. 

Joe Biden

Unlike Trump, Biden has treated covid-19 with solemnity and seriousness on the campaign trail; he has always worn masks and been quick to push how serious the pandemic is. In terms of an action plan, the Biden camp has released measures to control the covid-19 spread that include free covid-19 tests for all Americans, free treatment for all Americans, funding for contact tracing and stricter measures for reopening schools and businesses.

Abortion

Donald Trump

Trump has sought to greatly limit access to abortion throughout his tenure. His administration has cut funding for Planned Parenthood and its affiliates continuously over the past four years, and passed legislation allowing employers to exclude ACA contraceptive coverage due to religious or moral reasons. His latest nominee to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, is a religious conservative who pro-choice groups say has indicated she could vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Joe Biden

Biden supports abortion. If elected, he has said he will justices to the Supreme Court who support Roe v. Wade,  and has also vowed to reinstitute federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

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