The upcoming election has huge implications for healthcare, far beyond how COVID is managed, ranging from how care is covered to how it’s delivered. The graphic above shows a continuum of potential policy outcomes of the November 3rd vote.
If President Trump wins a second term and Republicans control at least one house of Congress, there will likely be more attempts to dismantle the ACA, as well as continued privatization of Medicare coverage.
If Democrats win the presidency and sweep Congress, actions to expand the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or even create a national public option, are on the table—although major healthcare reform seems unlikely to occur until the second half of a Biden term.
In the short term, we’d expect to see more policy activity in areas of bipartisan agreement, like improving price transparency, ending surprise billing and lowering the cost of prescription drugs, regardless of who lands in the White House.
While healthcare emerged as the most important issue for voters in the 2018 midterm elections, the COVID pandemic has overshadowed the broader healthcare reform platforms of both Presidential candidates heading into the election. As shown in the gray box, many Americans view the election as a referendum on the Trump administration’s COVID response. Managing the pandemic is one of the most important issues for voters, especially Democrats, who now rank the issue above reducing the cost of healthcare or lowering the cost of drugs.
In many aspects, the COVID policies of Biden and Trump are almost diametrically opposed, especially concerning the role of the federal government in organizing the nation’s pandemic response.
The next administration’s actions to prevent future COVID-19 surges, ensure safe a return to work and school, accelerate therapies, and coordinate vaccine delivery will remain the most important aspect of healthcare policy well into 2021.