The two presidential candidates diverge sharply on health care: President Trump’s policy is centered around repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare, while Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wants to build upon the ACA and call it “Bidencare.”
What would Bidencare entail? According to Bill Hoagland, senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Biden “has been pretty clear what he would do, and I think it’s been pretty straightforward that he wants to build upon the Affordable Care Act, not repeal.”
‘Everyone should have the right to affordable health care’
Based on Biden’s statements in the last presidential debate, there are three key components to Bidencare: automatically enroll qualifying people in Medicaid in states that did not adopt the Medicaid expansion, reducing premiums and reducing drug prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate with insurance companies, and ensuring protections for pre-existing conditions.
“What I’m going to do is pass Obamacare with a public option and [create] Bidencare,” Biden said. “The public option is an option that says that if you in fact do not have the wherewithal, if you qualify for Medicaid and you do not have the wherewithal in your state to get Medicaid, you automatically are enrolled, providing competition for insurance companies. ... Secondly, we’re going to make sure we reduce the premiums and reduce drug prices by making sure that there’s competition, that doesn’t exist now, by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with the insurance companies. ... Lastly, we’re going to make sure we’re in a situation that we actually protect pre-existing” conditions.
The president has accused Biden’s plan of being that of a socialist because of its public option, but Biden called the idea “ridiculous.” Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, agreed.
“When people talk about socialized medicine, they usually mean that the government is running hospitals and employing doctors,” he told Yahoo Finance. “And that is not by any detail a part of that plan. Biden has proposed a public option which would be a government-sponsored insurance plan and would be voluntary for people. The Biden plan wouldn’t eliminate private insurance or require people to sign up for a government plan. A government-run insurance plan is arguably socialized insurance, but Biden’s plan doesn’t even do that because it’s still an option.”
During the debate, Biden stressed the fundamental difference between his view of health care and Trump’s.
“Everyone should have the right to affordable health care, and I am very proud of my plan,” Biden said. “This is something that’s going to save people’s lives.”
‘Trumpcare’ doesn’t really exist outside of executive orders
Health care in the U.S. is under a microscope as the Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments on the landmark bill’s constitutionality on Nov. 10.
Depending on specifics of the ruling, the Court could either uphold the health care legislation’s constitutionality, invalidate only parts of the law, or overturn it completely.
If the ACA were to be overturned in the spring of 2021, when a ruling is expect, there would be no health care bill ready to replace it. The White House recently released an executive order signed by Trump enacting several health care measures, but executive action would fall short.
“The president issued an executive order saying it’s the policy of the United States to protect people with pre-existing conditions, but that carries no force of law at all,” Levitt said. “On the highest profile issue of protecting people with pre-existing conditions, the president promised to continue those protections if the ACA is overturned. But he’s offered no details about how he would do that.”
“If there was a plan,” Hoagland said of Trump’s proposed replacement of Obamacare, “I missed it.”
Adriana Belmonte is a reporter and editor covering politics and health care policy for Yahoo Finance. You can follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.