Presidential Candidates on Health Care Issues: Donald Trump

DECEMBER 08, 2015
Bill Schu
Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a high-level look at the positions of the leading nominees for President when it comes to political issues potentially impacting physicians.
 
A year ago at this time, it would have seemed absurd to think that any article outlining the overall health care policies of the leading Republican candidates for President might lead with the views of Donald J. Trump. But here we are. Despite a recent dip in the polls, he is still considered the front-runner by many, and he is now well past the point of running a candidacy as a public relations move, as many initially suspected.
 
Trump is anything but a cookie-cutter conservative, so his views on health care aren’t easily categorized. They also appear to be somewhat fluid.
 
Overall: Trump has repeatedly said he would like to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something better. On the campaign trail in late October, Trump said, “People’s premiums... are going up 35, 45, 55 percent. Their deductibles are so high nobody’s ever going to get to use it. So ... Obamacare is turning out to be a bigger disaster than anybody thought.” While the numbers used there are cherry-picked for effect (and rated “half true” by Politifact), the sentiment is clear: Trump wants the ACA to be repealed.
 
What might that something better be? No one is quite sure. Initially espousing single-payer systems in Canada and Scotland, Trump has since back-tracked from saying he would prefer a single-payer system in the United States -- a decidedly “un-Republican” notion. Trump has more recently spoken vaguely about a private system. He has also espoused increasing competition between managed care organizations, particularly across state lines. There are few other specifics about his policy ideas.
 
Abortion: When Trump was considering a Presidential run with the Reform Party in 1999, he described himself as “pro-choice with reservations.” This time around, his views seem to have evolved to being pro-life, although the pro-life community is a bit skeptical about his commitment to the cause. He has stood mainly on the sidelines while his fellow GOP candidates have taken a hard stance on funding for Planned Parenthood. And Trump has supported exemptions to abortion bans in the cases of rape, incest, and danger to the life the mother. Trump has stated on several occasions that his views on abortion haven’t necessarily changed, just that they weren’t fully articulated previously. He will likely have many more chances to articulate them.
 
Other issues: Trump has maintained on several occasions that he believes there is a link between vaccination and autism, a notion that has been definitively disputed by the scientific and medical communities.
 

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

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