Health insurance has been a backburner issue for much of the 2016 presidential campaign, but Republican nominee Donald Trump took a brief moment to share his plans for the sector during his Thursday night acceptance speech.
“We will repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare,” Trump said during his one hour, 14-minute speech – the longest given at a party convention since 1972. “You will be able to choose your own doctor again.”
The comments came as Trump decried federal regulation over the private sector, including policies in the mining and steel industries and government approaches to airport security.
Trump did not outline his specific plans for healthcare and health insurance in the speech, though he has shared his views on other occasions.
According to the points given on his website, Trump would repeal the Affordable Care Act, eliminate the individual mandate, roll back the Medicaid expansion and create a national market by allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines.
Establishing such a “national market” is a popular idea among Republicans, including former presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who say the removal of state barriers will create more competition and bring down the cost of health insurance.
The idea has attracted some pushback, with critics saying there is no guarantee carriers will want to move to different states, deal with network limitations and navigate differing regulatory systems that may complicate operations.
Yet the idea remains attractive to many. Proponents like Trump say creating a national market would allow consumers to save money by buying cheaper insurance plans from states that require fewer benefits, which translates to less expensive premiums.
Few insurers have spoken publicly about either the proposals or the candidates in the 2016 election – neither have they donated much money to individual campaigns.
Historically the industry has leaned right, with varying trade groups and individual companies donating 68% of the insurance business’s total $55 million to the Republican Party during the 2012 election cycle. This year, however, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is at the head of the pack when it comes to recipients of insurance dollars – Clinton has received $1,108,891 in industry contributions, compared with $36,845 given to Trump’s campaign.
Clinton has been an outspoken proponent of the Affordable Care Act, promising to beef up the program with a $250 per month cap on out-of-pocket drug expense, the remainder of which would have to be covered by insurers. She has also advocated against major health insurance mergers, such as those between Anthem and Cigna, and Humana and Aetna.
These ideas, too, have received criticism as some health insurers say consolidation is the only way to move forward under stringent regulations created by the ACA. Adding to insurers’ required coverage of prescriptions may also increase premiums.
With a more competitive election between Clinton and Trump, the eventual fate of the healthcare legislation remains in the balance.
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