According to the Pew Research Center, healthcare is second only to the economy when it comes to issues that will influence Americans’ vote in November.
Health care reform has been a point of political contention since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted in 2010 under the Obama administration. The law has been under peril the last four years with Republicans in Congress and President Trump pledging to repeal the ACA.
A Supreme Court case is set for November 10th, challenging the constitutionality of the ACA. Kathleen Sebelius, former secretary of Health and Human Services under President Barack Obama, says that if the law is stripped it could have devastating economic impacts. “If this law is struck down, it would have incredible dramatic effects on not only 720,000 people who have insurance now… it would have a huge effect on the state budget,” says Sebelius.
On the campaign trail, Biden has been running on a plan to expand the public option, stopping short of endorsing Medicare for All. As the election nears and the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, many Americans are unsure about the future of their health care in a particularly precarious time.
Listen: How the 2020 election will impact health coverage.
Marianne Udow-Phillips is the founding executive director of the Center for Health research Transformation at the University of Michigan and the former director of the Michigan Department of Human Services. She says the changes implemented under the Trump administration over the last four years has meant more people in Michigan are uninsured. The pandemic has now re-contextualized the fight for health care reform in the state, and subsequently the 2020 presidential election.
“This election could have a big impact on Michigan. If President Trump is re-elected he says he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would undo our Medicaid Expansion. Joe Biden has a very different plan that would actually expand Medicaid,” says Udow-Phillips. She adds that there are some common misconceptions about who utilizes programs like Medicaid. “Two-thirds of those on Medicaid are working. They’re doing their very best to be independent, but they’re working in low wage jobs that don’t offer insurance,” says Udow-Phillips.
Yasmeen Abutaleb is a national reporter focusing on health policy for The Washington Post. She says that while the Trump administration has been working to strip the ACA for years, there has been little in the way of a replacement plan. “There are fewer people who are insured than at the start of the [Trump] administration. For a couple of years now, there’s almost this running joke of this big healthcare plan that would be revealed,” says Abutaleb.
Throughout the campaign, Trump has hinted at a healthcare reform plan but has been light on details. “The president did a big healthcare event and speech a few ago but it was very vague,” says Abutaleb.
Detroit Today associate producer Clare Brennan wrote this article.