Life sciences and healthcare reform: Clinton vs Trump

Monique Ellis our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 12/10/2016

In the run-up to the much anticipated US presidential elections in November 2016, there is much commotion over the widely different approaches that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have taken toward healthcare. The Democrat candidate Clinton promises to protect and expand the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and takes a strong stance on scientific research. The Republican candidate Trump vows to repeal the ACA as soon as he gets into office and aims to control prescription prices. Here’s a brief overview of the policies the candidates propose in regard to healthcare and life sciences.

Hillary Clinton

Following the Obama administration, Clinton has promised to continue and even expand on the ACA, more commonly known as Obamacare. Since it was enacted in 2010, the number of Americans with affordable health insurance has sky-rocketed and Clinton means to “build on the progress we’ve made” to get even more people insured, and may attempt to make a public-option possible.

To combat rapidly spiralling prescription drug prices, Clinton intends to use the bargaining power of Medicare to negotiate lower prices for drugs for low-income families and pensioners. With regards to long-standing effective treatments, she plans to make more drug alternatives available, increase access to treatments from other developed countries and issue penalties to pharmaceutical companies if their drug prices are unreasonable.

Clinton has undertaken a mission to bolster scientific research into some of today’s most prevelant health issues such as HIV/ AIDS, Alzheimer’s Disease and mental health. She promises to provide consistent and reliable funding to help research and health experts find ways to prevent, treat and cure these terrible conditions that affect thousands.

Donald Trump

Trump’s policies in regards to health are very much focused on repealing the ACA and tackling prescription pricing. Trump agrees with Clinton on universal healthcare but does not believe that individuals should be required to buy health insurance. He wants to replace the ACA system and reduce Medicare expansion in each state. This would be an effort to lower premiums, reduce the US deficit and reverse ‘economic uncertainty’.

Trump suggests replacing the ACA with various health reforms that he believes will give more choice and economic freedom to Americans. Instead, he wants to encourage individuals to use tax-free Health Saving Accounts (HSAs) which will provide security on their own terms.

Like Clinton, Trump is dedicated to reducing prescription costs and wants to encourage price transparency within healthcare. Like Clinton, Trump wants to allow Medicare to set drug prices to help control costs. He believes in a “patient-focused healthcare system” and aims to increase healthcare access by removing barriers to entry into free markets so Americans have access to safe healthcare organizations abroad. Trump wants to ensure that pharmaceutical companies are serving the public’s best interest.

What does this mean for the pharmaceutical industry?

"The drug companies could end up being the loser under either administration," says Joe Heider, founder and president at Cleveland, Ohio-headquartered Cirrus Wealth Management.

According to an analysis by U.S. News, the pharmaceutical industry will face difficulty regardless of which government takes power in November.  Both candidates have taken a strong position on drug pricing and aim to force drugmakers such as Pfizer and Merck & Co. to make drugs and treatments more affordable. The movement towards importing drugs from other countries, which is instigated by both parties, would bring a lot of competition into the mix and cause prices to drop.

The article suggests that Trump, and maybe even Clinton, may bring about the lifting of the current prohibition on the federal government to negotiate prices with drug companies. This would further increase competition and affect drug prices.

What do you think about Clinton and Trump’s different views on healthcare and life sciences? Let us know in the comments!