Health Care in the Age of Trump

There is no uniquely Trumpian health care agenda. The danger is the enactment of the GOP’s reactionary proposals.

By Adam Gaffney, M.D.
Jacobin, Nov. 11, 2016
Tuesday, there should be little doubt, was a toxic day for health – and health care – in America.

The implications of the election are widespread and multifaceted, ranging from the catastrophic impact a Trump presidency will have on climate change – and the attendant global health consequences – to the squeeze on reproductive health care access that will likely follow the rise of the Right.

At the state level, important health care-related ballot initiatives went down in defeat, including a universal health care referendum in Colorado and an initiative in California that was set to mildly loosen Big Pharma’s tentacle-like grip on the state’s finances (it would have merely allowed the state to purchase drugs at the discount already available to the federal government). Big Pharma and the insurance industry poured huge sums into lobbying campaigns against these initiatives – money that was evidently well spent.

Even more ominously, Republicans now control both the executive and legislative branches, giving them the chance to remold the nation’s health care system into something both uglier and more lucrative for the nation’s corporate health care interests (Pharma stocks soared the day after the election).

For those of us who predicted (and hoped) that the coming health care divide would be between centrist-liberal and left-progressive visions, this election constitutes a complete upheaval in the political landscape of health reform.

Some important questions arise. What might Republicans have in store for health care? What will the politics of health care reform look like going forward? And how can we keep the dream for single-payer alive?