The 2020 general election is now underway in some parts of America, as we look forward to the November 3 climax. The two biggest candidates are the United States of America’s current president, Donald Trump, from the Republican Party, and of course, Joe Biden, of the Democratic Party.
As should be expected, the two have gone back and forth over the last few months on a long list of important issues about what they plan on offering the country, with healthcare rising to the top of the list. That should come as no surprise when you consider how key healthcare is in deciding who voters eventually vote for. And that makes sense because our healthcare system is a mess. I’m tired of saying this. A huge mess. But that’s a story for another day.
For now, we will focus on the stance of both Trump and Biden on crucial healthcare issues. And I can promise you this will not be a political article. Trust me; it won’t. I should also add that I’m going to add the coronavirus as part of a healthcare issue, because it is. Some like to politicize it, but it’s a healthcare issue. Simple as.
To start with, the coronavirus. Well, according to the CDC, the coronavirus has killed close to 219,000 people in the United States of America, corresponding to over 20% of the total deaths in the world. That’s just sad. I can’t say I’m surprised given how we, as a nation, have acted all through these rough eight months or so. But, again, that’s a story for another day.
Trump’s coronavirus response has been one clearly not in strong favor of mask-wearing. He has been seen countless times in public gatherings, not wearing a mask. He even mocked Biden, some weeks ago, for wearing a mask, and that should tell you all you need to know about what he feels about masks. Biden, on the other hand, has been a staunch supporter of mask-wearing. And he plans on mandating mask-wearing when, or more appropriately, if he gets into power.
What can I say? As a medical practitioner, I am begging you to wear masks. Masks have been recommended by the WHO, CDC, and basically every other standard health organization in the world. Masks help limit the spread of the virus. It really should be a no-brainer.
Another aspect of the coronavirus response they, Trump and Biden, disagree on is the United States’ withdrawal from the WHO. Trump infamously pulled the US out of the WHO some months back because he felt the organization is compromised. Biden plans on reversing the withdrawal if he is appointed into office. To be perfectly clear, he plans on reversing the decision on his first day of office.
It’s not all disagreements, though. They both agree on quite a few issues, like reopening schools, hastening the development of a safe and effective vaccine, and expanding testing. These all seem fine if they can be done safely, but therein lies the issue. Hastening the development of a vaccine doesn’t really go well with safety and efficacy. Vaccines naturally take years to develop, and we are talking about developing one in a few months. I understand that these are precarious times, but we still cannot throw caution to the wind. We cannot afford to.
About a week ago, Johnson and Johnson paused their vaccine trial due to ‘unexplained illnesses.’ Some other studies have also paused their vaccine trial. These just emphasize that we need to be patient. We cannot afford to compromise the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine, further putting more people at risk just for the sake of it. The vaccine trials should go at a relatively fast pace. I agree with that bit, but also at a healthy pace. There are risks we shouldn’t be taking at this point, and this has to be the chief of them.
Now to other healthcare issues. Let’s start with the Affordable Care Act. President Trump does not support this Act and has been very vocal about it. His administration has been trying to overturn the law put in place a decade ago by his predecessor, Barrack Obama. Biden, meanwhile, supports this law. No one can act surprised here because Biden was Vice President when the law was put in place. Biden has also promised to build on the 2010 law, allowing more people to choose a public insurance plan instead of Medicare-for-all, a single-payer system. Trump, of course, doesn’t support this.
To be honest, I’m not a fan of what insurance companies are doing to our healthcare system. So, I just hope whoever wins can develop a sure-fire plan to put us out of this misery. It starts by reducing the power these insurance companies have because the big companies are merging and monopolizing healthcare insurance. Something needs to be done, and fast too.
Trump and Biden also have differing views of enabling undocumented immigrants to have access to Medicaid or any other government-funded insurance program, for that matter. Trump doesn’t agree to this, while Biden feels no one should be denied healthcare.
I will not say who is in the wrong or right because many of these issues are down to opinions and policies. My primary allegiance is to saving human lives, which is why I support mask-wearing and any policy that will see our healthcare get better. One better than what we have had for years now.
This article was written by Dr. Adil Manzoor DO, a Board Certified Internist & Board Eligible Pediatrician, who works as a Hospitalist, and Emergency Room Physician. He is also the current President of Garden State Street Medicine, a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to provide free preventive and acute urgent care services for the homeless. He is also the co-founder of his own unique medical practice Mobile Medicine NJ.