Healthcare is one of the most complex topics in American politics, especially in the midst of a pandemic. It's a dense subject, but its implications can be severe: under the umbrella of healthcare, women's rights can be put at risk, endemic racism and sexism can be amplified, and regular Americans can be forced into hundreds of thousands' worth of dollars worth of debt.
An over-simplification of how politics and healthcare intersect would say that the Democratic party tends to favor more healthcare coverage rather than less, and more government action to control costs and establish market equity; the Republican party, meanwhile, tends to favor privatized healthcare and less governmental oversight as a rule. Yet in the current landscape, which is politically divisive than ever in addition to enduring a pandemic, party lines are less clear.
Many Democrats argue that the issues on the table in 2020 are a matter of human rights, not of deductibles and copays. The Trump administration has issued healthcare-related policies and orders that have marginalized groups including women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people and communities of color. Here's what's at stake for some of the most pressing healthcare topics today, and where both presidential tickets stand on them.
Trump and Pence: The current administration, which has overseen handling of the current pandemic, has leaned towards ignoring scientific sources and advice and existing pandemic infrastructure. It has offered contradictory views on wearing masks and touted unproven, potentially deadly remedies; Trump has also threatened to leave the World Health Organization.
Harris and Biden: Harris and Biden have a section of their website devoted to their coronavirus plan, which involves increased reliable testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) and re-setting up safeguards to mitigate COVID-19 impacts. Harris had proposed the COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force Act, which is designed to ensure that solutions are equitable for populations that see higher healthcare disparities and mortalities.
Trump and Pence: The current administration repealed the individual mandate requiring people to have health insurance, and has fought the Affordable Care Act, which was enacted under the Obama and Biden administration. They have proposed re-allowing insurance companies the ability to discriminate based on medical history.
Harris and Pence: Biden was, of course, a part of establishing the ACA during the Obama administration, and supports its enhancement as well as improving the efficacy of Medicare. His plan may still leave gaps in coverage, and Harris and Biden initially clashed on this. Now that they're running mates, their newly released healthcare plan is a sort of hybrid, with a “Medicare-like” public option for consumers and an option for more affordable private insurance too.
Trump and Pence: Progress has stalled on improving racial disparities in healthcare since the current administration took office. The President's claims of delivering results to reduce inequality for Black Americans have been debunked or unveiled as overblown.
Biden and Harris: Harris and Biden address healthcare for communities of color on their website. They say that their plan includes healthcare tax credits for impoverished people and expanding coverage to low-income Americans in particular. They also want to increase support for community health centers, particularly for underserved populations.
Trump and Pence: In their American Health Care Act of 2017, Trump's administration attempted to repeal the ACA and remove basic care provisions for women (it didn't pass the Senate). The administration also threatened to repeal Roe vs. Wade, forced Planned Parenthood out of Title X funding, and was recently given the go-ahead by the Supreme Court to push forward with allowing employers to deny employees birth control coverage for religious or moral objections.
Biden and Harris: Biden has an Agenda for Women that, among other things, says it plans to "further women’s economic and physical security and ensure that women can fully exercise their civil rights." His views about women's rights have changed; although Harris challenged him on his perspective in the debates, both believe in repealing the Hyde Act, which blocks Medicaid from providing abortion services and disproportionately impacts people in lower income brackets and women of color.
Medical, Especially Pharmaceutical, Costs
Trump and Pence: The U.S. is one of the few developed nations without a "publicly accountable process" for pharmaceutical prices. Costs have risen as technology has improved, but there's no system to determine cost relative to value. The current administration has flip-flopped on the subject. A House "Pelosi Bill" has tried to tackle drug costs widely; it passed the House, but the Senate doesn't support it. A Senate Finance Committee Bill, which does less in terms of comprehensive change, was reintroduced in July.
Harris and Biden: Biden initially favored basing U.S. drug prices on costs in other nations that have limits on costs. On the Biden-Harris website, importing pharmaceuticals is listed as a part of their healthcare plan, as well as limiting price increases, forcing drug companies to negotiate with Medicare and limiting their tax breaks, and improving the supply of generic prescription drugs.
Other Healthcare Issues
In addition to these topics, other subjects will remain important for the election and beyond, including: mental health treatment, access to telehealth, addiction treatment, transgender rights, and long-term care as the U.S. sees a rise in aging baby boomers.
Voter Merch to Help You Spread the Word This November
Mother x I Am a Voter Socks
Thanks to MOTHER, your sock game has never been stronger. Through December 31, 2020, MOTHER will donate $5 of the purchase price from each pair of socks sold to I am a voter.
Everyone was obsessed with Michelle Obama's "Vote" necklace, displayed here, that she wore during her speech at the Democratic National Convention (DNC).
Adult Statement Face Mask (3-Pack)
A denim "Vote" mask? Say less. Gap is donating up to $25,000 each to When We All Vote and Rock the Vote.
This chic "Vote" necklace comes in two styles—one (spaced) retails for $360 and the other (script nameplate) retails for $480. One hundred percent of the proceeds will support the Black Voters Matter Fund dedicated to expanding Black voter engagement by increasing power in marginalized and predominantly Black communities.
Reimagine Your Vote Crop Top
Re—inc's "Reimagine Your Vote" crop top is part of Michelle Obama's Vote 4EVER Merch drop featuring products from Black- and women-owned businesses in support of her nonpartisan organization, When We All Vote. While most of the merch is already sold out, you can take a look at what's still available here.
Fifty percent of the proceeds from these cute 14k gold "Vote" earrings will go to organizations that "amplify, celebrate and support Black voices," according to the brand's website.
This Fabletics tee says it best: Exercise! Your! Right! To! Vote! Then tell everybody you know to do the same.
I Vote Necklace
Ten percent of all proceeds from this fun "Watch Out I Vote" necklace will be donated to I am a voter.
Vote Face Masks, Set of 2
Phenomenal Voter Sweatshirt
Meena Harris, niece of Democratic VP nominee Kamala Harris, is the CEO & founder of the Phenomenal brand that supports a range of non-profits, including the Black Futures Lab, Justice for Migrant Women, and The Council on American-Islamic Relations. Purchasing this "Phenomenal Voter" sweatshirt is the perfect way to contribute to Harris' brand, as well as these other organizations.
CV x When We All Vote Canvas Tote
Clare V. partnered with When We All Vote to create this chic canvas tote. Ten percent of the purchase price will be donated to the nonpartisan non-profit, which is co-chaired by former first lady Michelle Obama, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monáe, and more incredible people.
When We All Vote's mission is to "increase participation in every election and close the race and age voting gap by changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and through strategic partnerships to reach every American."
November is coming, which means you'll probably get a lot of use out of this beanie once October arrives.
#TheTeeInVote Long Sleeve
Find a chicer crew neck than this Michael Stars long sleeve with an illustration of writer, activist, and feminist organizer Gloria Steinem's face in the corner. According to the brand, $50,000 of sales will benefit grassroots organizations led by women of color, including Black Voters Matter, Voto Latino, and March On.
Help spread the word and provide 10 school meals to kids in need when you purchase this FEED vote tote. A portion of proceeds will also go towards When We All Vote.
Big Ballot Energy Sweater
Don't mind me—I'll just be living in this hand-stitched "Big Ballot Energy" cashmere sweater from Lingua Franca NYC all the way through November.
Vote Graphic Unisex Tee
Found: a cute unisex tee where all proceeds will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Vote Face Mask
Support the Human Rights Campaign and keep your neighbors safe by purchasing this vote face mask. It's a win-win for everybody.
Raise your hand if you will be swapping your ankle socks for these thick, comfy vote socks for the foreseeable future
Vote Short Sleeve
Lingua Franca has so many good voter merch options that it was hard to choose between the "Big Ballot Energy" sweater and this cashmere "Vote" short sleeve shirt.
Rosario Dawson and Mira Sorvino have been spotted wearing this "Vote" charm from Alex Woo. It's available in two options with quite a dramatic price difference: The silver charm is $148 and the 14k gold charm is $648. As they say, a timeless piece!
"V Is for Vote" T-Shirt
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Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.