10 Things We Know About the U.S. Presidential Candidates and Healthcare

February 24, 2016


The 2016 presidential election keeps rolling along with fewer candidates and many more primaries and caucuses. While issues like immigration and economic justice have dominated the debates and media coverage so far, healthcare continues to pop up fairly frequently. For example:

  1. Four candidates – Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump – have promised to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. This has traditionally been a Democratic proposal and now it has crossed over party lines.
  2. Trump, Clinton and Sanders have said the U.S. should allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from Canada.
  3. Every Republican candidate has pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act. (Okay, everyone knows that.)
  4. Sanders has promised a “Medicare for All” single-payer healthcare program that would replace private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Clinton says she wants to build on the ACA including new limits on out-of-pocket costs for consumers and a “public option” that states could choose to compete with private insurers.
  5. Clinton has promised to spend $2 billion on treating and preventing Alzheimer’s disease and to expand autism insurance and access to early screening.
  6. Rubio, Carson, Ted Cruz and John Kasich support raising the age of eligibility for Medicare (now set at 65) for future retirees. Trump is the only Republican left in the race who does not support making that change.
  7. Candidates in both parties have called for expanded access to treatment for those addicted to opiates and other drugs, often offering heartfelt stories of family and friends who have been caught up in this epidemic.
  8. Sanders and Clinton have promised to remove cannabis from the list of controlled substances (known as Schedule 1) maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). But only
    Sanders favors legalizing marijuana altogether.
  9. Five GOP candidates – Trump, Carson, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie and Rand Paul – raised questions about the safety of vaccinations for children.
  10. Four physicians launched campaigns for President in 2016 – Republicans Carson (neurosurgeon) and Paul (ophthalmologist); Independent candidate Mark Feldman (anesthesiologist); and Green Party candidate Jill Stein (internal medicine).