It is often remarked upon that this election has been about personality over policy. Debates center around character attacks and news headlines highlight the latest personal controversy. It is important to be informed about a candidate’s actions and beliefs, as it reflects their values and informs what sort of leader they would be. In the case of this election, however, personality has obstructed policy. As a result, there is a dearth of information, as well as an abundance of misinformation, on the candidates’ actual plans and strategies.
This has been glaringly apparent as we talk to citizens across the country who say things like, “I can’t vote for Hillary Clinton because I want to continue to hunt.” Or, “Hillary Clinton wants to shut down the military, and I’m worried my army friends will lose their jobs.” For the record, Hillary Clinton’s gun control proposal targets terrorists, domestic abusers, and other violent criminals and poses no threat to your average hunting aficionado. Additionally, Clinton believes in continuing our nation’s legacy as having “the best-trained, best-equipped, and strongest military the world has ever known.”
Perhaps the biggest propagator of false information regarding the Clinton campaign, which should come as no surprise, is Trump himself. His false professions about Hillary’s policies resonate with many of the middle class rural Americans we have encountered along our journey. Ironically, these citizens are more likely to be hurt by Trump’s plans and helped by Hillary’s. Health care is a primary example of this, and one that comes up frequently in our discussions. In an effort to rectify this misinformation, and to focus on policy over personality, let us examine the actual meat and potatoes of both Hillary and Trump’s plans and how they will affect Americans.
For starters, Hillary would perpetuate the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), while Trump would fully repeal it. A full repeal means rescinding increased Medicaid eligibility, insurance subsidies (millions of Americans receive tax subsidies that make it possible for them to purchase insurance), and individual market reforms such as bans on excluding those with preexisting conditions.
According to the RAND global policy think tank, the repeal would cause “nearly 20 million people to lose their insurance in 2018, increase average premium and out-of-pocket costs for people who buy insurance on their own, and increase the federal deficit.” The federal deficit would increase because currently, ACA’s Medicare reforms save the government money and current fees and taxes create federal revenue. These savings and revenue are more money than would be saved by eliminating insurance subsidies and the expansion of Medicaid.
As mentioned in a prior post, The People Behind the Polls, there are some serious issues with the Affordable Care Act. Clinton recognizes this and addressed some of these problems in the second presidential debate. She plans to take immediate action in reforming the aspects of ACA that raise insurance costs for millions of Americans, while maintaining the Act’s positive aspects. Her specific courses of action include:
- Refundable tax credits of up to $2,500 for individuals or $5,000 for families with private insurance who spend more than 5 percent of their income on health services. This would result in large savings for those with low and moderate incomes while increasing coverage to 9.6 million people.
- For individuals who earn $47,000 or less, lower the maximum amount that people pay toward Obamacare insurance plans from 9.7 percent of income to 8.5 percent. This would increase coverage to 1.7 million people and drop costs for those eligible.
- Fix the “family coverage glitch,” which has incorrectly marked some families as ineligible for Obamacare. With this fix, 2.8 million more people would have health care.
- In order to address the lack of insurers participating in the Obamacare Marketplace, add government-administered public insurance option in all state marketplaces. This would cover 400,000 more people and drop costs for middle-class marketplace enrollees.
When all is said and done, these changes would cost a cool $103.2 billion. Clinton proposes to pay for this with taxes on higher-income families and rebates from drug manufacturers. Additionally, according to RAND, “greater competition generated by the public plan, and the lower cost of the public plan itself, would reduce marketplace premiums and thus federal spending on premium tax credits.”
In summary, Clinton’s proposal is one giant step towards universal health care and it seeks to mitigate the ACA’s current inefficiencies. Trump’s plan is vague at best and according to RAND, would decrease insurance for up to 20 million people, increase costs for low and moderate income earners, and decrease costs only for high-income earners. It is, of course, important to remember that these proposals are just that. Proposals. They must be passed through Congress before being enacted, thus the congressional race will have a lot to do with what becomes of our health care.
Meredith, Nina, Ben, Mike, and Jamie
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