It’s time for another round of Democratic debates. With the party’s presidential hopefuls on stage again this week, we’re taking a look at their recent thoughts on healthcare. Don’t worry; there won’t be a quiz.
Healthcare has been one of the most important issues in recent elections. It’s also the top issue that Democratic voters want to hear about, according to a Kaiser poll, with 83% saying it is “very important” for the candidates to discuss in the debates.
Here’s what the three highest-polling candidates from each night have said about healthcare issues lately.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took a conveniently timed trip to Canada this week to put a spotlight on drug prices. He traveled with about a dozen Type 1 diabetes patients over the border from Michigan to purchase cheaper insulin. Sanders took the opportunity to slam the drug industry, saying that insulin makers are price-fixing, and if he’s elected he will hold these companies accountable.
In her last debate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) expressed support for a “Medicare For All” plan that would entirely eliminate private insurance, a step further than many other candidates. On Monday, Warren tweeted that part of her trade policy would address drug prices with “price controls and…opportunities to reduce exclusivity periods.”
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said he hopes to address drug prices with his “Medicare For All Who Want It” plan. It would provide a public option, which people could buy into, that Buttigieg hopes would force private insurers and other healthcare organizations to lower costs as people move to public coverage.
Former Vice President Joe Biden dedicated an entire (long) section of his healthcare plan, released this month,to drug prices. His policy proposal would allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies, cap drug prices based on the average price in other countries, limit annual price increases, end pharma’s ability to deduct advertising spending on taxes, allow drug importation and increase generic competition. Whew!
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is a supporter of basing U.S. drug prices on an international average, capping price increases and removing the tax deduction for drug advertising, according to her drug-price plan released this month. One interesting, and complicated, tidbit is her proposal to impose a higher tax on pharma’s profit from drugs sold at an above-average cost and return that money to patients through rebates.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) hasn’t spoken much about drug prices or the pharma industry, perhaps because New Jersey is where many major pharma companies are headquartered. But his healthcare plan, which includes Medicare for All, also supports policies like allowing Medicare to negotiate prices, importing drugs and stripping patents from pharma companies that charge more for drugs in the U.S.
Every Wednesday, MM&M covers health policy changes relevant to pharma and healthcare marketers. Got a tip? Contact Alison Kanski at email@example.com.