Healthcare magnified as candidates compete for the most effective plan



Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden looks to supporters and members of the press while arriving to a campaign event Friday, Oct. 16. 2020 in Southfield, Mich. (Nicole Hester/Ann Arbor News via AP)

Candidates’ policies on healthcare are usually emphasized in any presidential election. But as the 2020 presidential election takes the stage amid a global pandemic that has taken the lives of over 200,000 Americans, the topic of healthcare is front and center. 

And the two candidates, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have two very opposing outlooks on the matter. 

During and even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the topic of Medicare for All and affordable healthcare has been a key issue amongst the American public. 

Since March, the Covid-19 pandemic has made Americans question the current healthcare climate in the United States pertaining to access to treatments, high medical bills, accessible testing and affordable prescription drug prices – to name a few.

President Trump’s handling of Covid-19 has made many also question what the Biden administration has in store for future healthcare policies. 

Richard Craig Sautter is a professor at DePaul University with expertise in American elections. In a brief summary, he broke down the different policies put forward by the two candidates. 

“First, Vice President Biden is a defender of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which he helped President Obama pass,” Sautter said. “At first, the public, the polls, said they oppose ACA. After a few years in existence, it is much more popular.” 

On Biden’s campaign website, some of the achievements of the ACA are brought to light. The ACA was created partly to ensure people no longer have to worry that an insurance company will deny coverage or charge higher premiums just because they have pre-existing conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, as well as mental illnesses. 

Meanwhile, President Trump and many other Republicans oppose government centralization of all services, which includes healthcare. Sautter said that Republicans favor a system that creates more competition among health care insurers in order to drive down the costs for consumers and aim to pass a law that mandates that all healthcare companies must insure those with pre-existing conditions. 

Many Democrats and Biden supporters believe that President Trump doesn’t have a definitive healthcare plan. 

“Last time I checked, Trump doesn’t have a healthcare policy,” said Arad Boxenbaum, a DePaul sophomore and creator of the DePaul for Joe Biden Instagram page. 

When speaking about topics such as Medicare for All, or the ACA, Boxenbaum believes Trump uses these topics only in a way to attack Biden. “I don’t know how many people are supporting Trump because of healthcare,” Boxenbaum said.  “That doesn’t seem to be something that Trump really talks about. It’s something he uses for attacking Joe Biden that he is going to behold to ‘the Left,’ fear-mongering about Medicare for All or the Affordable Care Act.” 

According to his campaign website, Trump “pledges to minimize the economic burden of the patient protection and Affordable Care Act,” as it’s currently pending repeal. 

The public has noticed that often when asked questions about healthcare policies, Trump doesn’t have clear answers. 

“It was especially shocking to see Donald Trump dodge the question so much during the debate when they asked him if he had a new plan or a plan at all,” said Miranda Barajaras, a senior at Illinois State University. 

While the topic of healthcare is a priority for the entire American public, it’s one that is especially important to college students — particularly with the fight for Medicare for All. 

“I want to see a candidate actually advocate for free universal healthcare,” Barajaras said. “So many other countries have it, and I don’t understand why a country that is as ‘rich’ as ours can’t grant us this one necessity.” 

Sautter said that the Republicans’ plan is to let privatized companies insure people, effectively keeping the “status quo” from before the ACA was ever in effect. 

“They say that to turn healthcare entirely over to the government (‘socialized medicine’) will result in less innovation, long lines to get healthcare service,” Sautter said. 

Biden’s positions on healthcare aim to protect the ACA from continued attacks. Instead of starting a new policy from scratch and eliminating private insurance, he plans to build on the ACA by “giving Americans more choice, reducing healthcare costs, and making our health care system less complex to navigate.” 

While Biden’s policies don’t represent the Medicare for All stance that many were hoping for, Boxenbaum said that it’s a step in the right direction. “It’s understandable that it’s nothing like Medicare for All, it’s nothing of the sort, but it’s absolutely a step towards that,” Boxenbaum said. “Having a public option means having a more affordable and higher-quality healthcare option that would ultimately be of similar quality for lower prices than a lot of the private insurances that we have currently.”