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Webcast Excerpt: The Democratic Plan for Healthcare

By HealthLeaders Media Staff  
   November 04, 2016

A Washington DC-based consultant gives an overview of what might happen to healthcare if the Democrats win control of Congress, the Senate, or the presidency.

This is an excerpt from How the 2016 Election Will Affect the Future Landscape of Healthcare Payment and Policy, a HealthLeaders Media webcast on how the election will affect healthcare policy. Ilisa Halpern Paul is president of the District Policy Group, which is part of Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP.

The full webcast includes Nick Manetto, principal at FaegreBD Consulting, who discusses the outlook under a Republican victory. This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

Ilisa Halpern Paul: Secretary Clinton has 30 years in public service and public policy. So, not surprisingly, she has very long list of things which she counts as her accomplishments, as well as things which she's outlined that she still hopes and plans to do if she's elected president.

Of particular note, I wanted to highlight a few items on this list that have bipartisan support. For example, the Cadillac tax. This is a provision of the Affordable Care Act that many of you may be familiar with, which pertains to the tax associated with higher expense healthcare plans with high premiums.

This is a provision which is universally disliked; Democrats dislike it and Republicans dislike it. It's been delayed once, but it's on track to go into effect in 2020. Both sides of the aisle and both chambers—house and senate­­—have indicated a desire to either repeal it or further delay it.

So, there are issues on Secretary Clinton's health policy agenda that would generate some bipartisan support. She wants to continue the plan to move forward the shift from fee-for-service to value-based care. That's another area where there is some bipartisan interest.

The discussion around the high cost of drugs certainly has bipartisan interest this year, and will continue to be in the public domain in the year ahead.

I thought we should spend a minute or two focusing specifically on drugs and the cost of drugs because of its national prominence on the policy agenda. Secretary Clinton has outlined a number of policies that she envisions putting in place if she's elected president with respect to the high cost of drugs.

In particular, as she highlighted in a policy paper in the New England Journal of Medicine recently, she wants to institute a monthly cap so that no individual need spend more than $250 a month on their prescription drugs.

She also is interested in negotiating and having the federal government negotiate drug prices for the Medicare program, as well as getting greater rebates from the pharmaceutical companies.

Again, there are some issues here where there's bipartisan agreement, and other issues, such as negotiating drug prices for the Medicare program, which, while it does not have bipartisan support in the congress, interestingly, Donald Trump has indicated his interests potentially in working on that issue.

Secretary Clinton has also outlined a number of other issues as key areas of policy focus for her if she's elected president. One issue of particular concern to her is affordable access for individuals who are not old enough to get in the Medicare program.

She long has advocated opening up the Medicare program to individuals who are under the age of 65; in particular, allowing individuals age 55 and older to buy into the Medicare program.

She also wants to strengthen the Medicaid program, provide additional flexibility and support to states with respect to Medicaid expansion, and ensure that there continues to be a safety net for individuals through the National Health Service Corps and the Community Health Centers program.

Secretary Clinton's agenda is a very broad and aggressive one. It's important also to spend a few minutes looking more broadly at the Democratic agenda. The Democratic National Committee put out its platform this summer, and it includes a number of issues beyond those that have been outlined and highlighted by Secretary Clinton.

The Democrats continue to call for universal healthcare, and they continue to advocate a public option. That's an incredibly important piece of Secretary Clinton's plan, which is to allow each state to have a public option available through their respective state exchanges. This currently does not have bipartisan support.

NIH funding—increasing funding for research—better treatments, cures, and diagnostics for a range of diseases and conditions—is something where there is bipartisan support.

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