By Pete Evich, AAHP Government Relations
As the 2020 U.S. presidential election inches closer, many Democratic hopefuls have launched campaigns to take the White House. At AAHP, we are keeping a close eye on the candidates and proposed policies that could affect the homeopathic industry. Here is an overview of key candidates and the prominent healthcare topics in the 2020 race to date.
Former Vice President Joe Biden began his career more than 40 years ago as a defense attorney after graduating from Syracuse University Law School. Biden was elected for his first term to represent Delaware in the Senate in 1972 followed by six terms of reelection. In 2008, Biden was elected Vice President alongside President Barack Obama where he served a behind-the-scenes role as advisor to the President. In 2013, Biden was appointed head of a special task force to reform gun laws after the Sandy Hook Massacre. Although his career is thought to be successful overall, some of his actions have not aged well, creating some scrutiny around his run for president in 2020. Nonetheless, Biden remains one of the most well-liked political figures in the race, making him a steady front runner for the upcoming election.
California Senator Kamala Harris has shown her commitment to public service and justice, spending her entire career in the courtroom. Harris obtained her degree from U.C. Hastings College of Law and immediately took a position in the County District Attorney’s Office. Her experience led to her position as the first female District Attorney of San Francisco from 2004 to 2011. In 2011, Harris became the first woman, first African American, and first Asian American to become the Attorney General of California. Harris currently sits as the first woman to represent California in the Senate.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren spent many years working in education before receiving her law degree from Rutgers School of Law. Warren was a professor at several universities before receiving her tenured position at Harvard Law School. In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, Warren was appointed to the Congressional oversight panel of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) because of her expertise in bankruptcy law. President Barack Obama appointed Warren as an advisor on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau soon thereafter. Warren is now serving her second elected term as Senator of Massachusetts, despite criticisms made about her Native American ancestry claims.
Although he is currently sitting as the longest-serving Independent member of Congress in history, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is running on the Democratic ticket for the second time. Senator Sanders began his political career as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, from 1981 to 1989. Sanders moved to the national arena in 1991 when he took what would become an eight-term seat on the U.S. House of Representatives. Since 2006, Sanders has been the registered independent Senator of Vermont. Sanders was widely criticized for his democratic socialist views before his presidential candidacy bid was lost in 2015. In the 2020 presidential race, Sanders is making waves with his proposals for universal programs in healthcare and education.
An underdog who has quickly received the attention that pushed him toward the front of the race, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the youngest and only openly gay presidential candidate. Before getting involved with politics, Buttigieg received an undergraduate degree from Harvard and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. Buttigieg is a U.S. military veteran who served as an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserves for six years, including a seven-month tour in Afghanistan. Throughout his time in the Navy Reserves, Buttigieg was able to begin his political career as Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, at the age of 29—the youngest mayor of a city with a population of more than 100,000.
Key Topics in Healthcare
Every 2020 presidential candidate has addressed healthcare reform in one way or another. Many candidates have backed Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill that was reintroduced in April 2019. The bill calls for a universal, single-payer healthcare system. Senator Harris and Senator Warren have publicly supported this bill, which would eliminate private insurance and drastically reduce co-pays and deductibles.
A reform of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that features increased public insurance options has been used to oppose Sanders’ bill. Due to his involvement during the original negotiations of the ACA, Biden supports a healthcare plan that builds on the current system. He proposed the following improvements: expanding public option, allowing international pharmaceutical imports, and mandatory negotiations between pharmaceutical companies and Medicare concerning pricing. Both Mayor Buttigieg and Senator Harris support expansion of the ACA with an increased public option.
Regulation of consumer pharmaceutical pricing is at the forefront of all of the candidates’ plans. Former Vice President Biden supports the requirement of price negotiation between pharmaceutical corporations and Medicare. He also suggests that international drug imports can promote fairness in pricing in the industry. Senator Harris suggested that the federal government set prices for specific medications to make them more attainable. In 2018, Senator Warren introduced legislation limiting insurance companies’ profit margins and increasing ACA financial assistance. Additionally, Warren introduced a bill to establish a government-run pharmaceutical manufacturer to reduce prices.