Hillary Clinton & healthcare: 16 things to know

Hillary Clinton recently secured the Democratic presidential nomination, becoming the first woman in the 240-year history of the U.S. to do so. Here are 16 things to know about the 2016 Democratic candidate's views on healthcare.

  1. Ms. Clinton supports the Affordable Care Act. She believes affordable healthcare is a basic human right. In 2014, she showed her support of the ACA on Twitter saying, "Repeal of the ACA would let insurers write their own rules again, and wipe out coverage for 16 million Americans."

  1. She plans to further build on the ACA. In a interview with PBS NewsHour in June 2014, Ms. Clinton said, "I think people should say, look, 'We're going to learn more about how [the ACA is] working, and if there are adjustments that need to be made as we go forward, wouldn't you rather have somebody who wants to keep the good, and fix what's not working, than somebody who wants to undermine it, and maybe throw it out. These are very stark choices.'"

  1. Ms. Clinton is a long-time proponent of universal healthcare. She has previously led universal healthcare initiatives, including the Health Security Act, which she helped develop during her role as leader of former President Bill Clinton's Task Force on National Health Reform in 1993. The task force developed the Health Security Act, a 1,000 page document created to ensure all Americans had health insurance. The bill offered universal coverage for U.S. citizens and permanent residents, with stipulations to limit minimum coverage and maximum out-of-pocket fees. The bill was later defeated in Congress. While some saw this as a failure, others saw it as an early career-defining move for her. Although Ms. Clinton and her contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) both support universal healthcare, she does not endorse the single payer system he proposed that would require a raise in taxes across the board.

  1. Ms. Clinton highlights her support for the public option. The public option is a government-run health insurance option that would create competition for commercial payers. While it was initially part of the ACA, the proposal was never actualized. Ms. Clinton has consistently supported public option since her 2008 campaign. According to her campaign website, she would work on a state-by-state basis to establish a public option choice. A Politico interpretation of her proposal to empower states says, "That may be a reference to a waiver program taking effect in 2017 that lets states assert greater control over their healthcare systems."

  1. She's introduced a "Medicare for more" expansion policy. In May, Ms. Clinton proposed a public option policy that would allow adults age 50 or 55 and up to voluntarily buy into Medicare. While the idea has floated around Congress for decades, the proposal is new for Ms. Clinton's campaign and represents a gradual shift left for her healthcare policy. Those ages 55 and older who buy insurance on the ACA are seen as a liability and therefore face much higher premiums than their younger counterparts. Allowing these individuals to buy Medicare could address this issue and help lower premiums for younger Americans as well. Ms. Clinton's did not specify if she would provide subsidies for low income Americans to buy Medicare.

  1. She plans to push Medicaid expansion with new incentives. Her website states, "[Ms. Clinton] shares the Obama administration's policy of providing 100 percent matching federal funding for the expansion's first three years. But she's also exploring other motivating factors for states to consider expansion, including outreach and enrollment."

  1. Ms. Clinton wants to expand access to health insurance to families regardless of immigration status. She hopes to allow citizen and non-citizen resident families to purchase coverage on the ACA exchanges. As a senator, Ms. Clinton sponsored the Immigrant Children's Health Improvement Act. Now a law, it provides immigrant children and pregnant women with access to Medicaid and CHIP coverage.

  1. She plans to invest $500 million in an "aggressive enrollment campaign." The funds would support navigators, advertising and other outreach activities to make enrollment easier, especially for the 16 million Americans who are eligible for health insurance but not enrolled, according to her campaign website. She will ensure that anyone who wants to enroll can understand their options and do so easily.

  1. She plans to lower out-of-pocket costs, like deductibles and co-pays. Ms. Clinton believes that in order to expand coverage for families, the cost of purchasing health insurance on the ACA exchanges must be reduced. She plans to address out-of-pocket expenses by providing families on the exchanges tax credits of up to $5,000. She also vowed to fix the "family glitch," which currently makes some families ineligible for subsidies if one member of the family has employer-based coverage, even if the plan is too expensive to cover the whole family.

  1. She wants to crack down on drug companies' high drug costs. Ms. Clinton is committed to building on delivery system reforms in the ACA to improve value and quality care for Americans, according to her website. Her plan would require drug companies that receive taxpayer support to invest a minimum in research and development. It would also end tax breaks for direct marketing. The plan is meant to encourage and reward innovative companies developing new treatments while cracking down on those raising prices without developing new products. Her proposal to tackle prescription drug costs would save roughly $200 billion  over a decade, according to an analysis from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

  1. She supports children's health initiatives. Ms. Clinton was instrumental in expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program, now called CHIP. Since its inception in 1997, the program has provided health insurance coverage to over eight million children. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy told the Associated Press in 2007, "The children's health program wouldn't be in existence today if we didn't have Hillary pushing for it from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue," according to FactCheck.org.

  1. She is a proponent of women's reproductive rights. She is pro-choice, believes the morning-after pill should be accessible, pledges unwaivering support to Planned Parenthood and defends women's rights to have access to full healthcare. As a senator, Ms. Clinton introduced eight pieces of legislation that aimed to expand and protect women's access to reproductive healthcare. She also helped launch the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, which supports access to birth control, family planning, and sex education. According to her website, "She will work to ensure that all women have access to preventive care, affordable contraception, and safe, legal abortion — not just in principle, but in practice, by ending restrictions like the Hyde Amendment." The Hyde Amendment bars the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortion unless the pregnancy arises from incest, rape or to save the mother's life.

  1. While serving in the Senate, she advocated for healthcare for workers at Ground Zero and military reservists. During her time in the Senate, Ms. Clinton supported programs that ensured 9/11 first responders had access to continuing healthcare. She also co-sponsored a law to expand health benefits for thousands of military families.

  1. Ms. Clinton has supported requiring an EHR for federal healthcare programs. She was the keynote speaker at the HIMMS annual conference in 2014 where she discussed the importance of EHRs and IT infrastructure for making decisions that could revolutionize healthcare. At the 2007 SEIU Democratic Health Care Forum in Las Vegas, Ms. Clinton supported an interoperable EHR system across the federal healthcare system, citing victims of Hurricane Katrina whose medical records were destroyed in the disaster and therefore could not receive proper medical care.      

  1. She calls for more research on medical marijuana. While Ms. Clinton supports state experimentation with marijuana regulations, she argues more research needs to be conducted before decriminalizing the drug on a federal level.

  1. She is pro-vaccines. Ms. Clinton spearheaded the Childhood Immunization Initiative and the Vaccines for Children program in 1993, which aimed to make vaccines more affordable. In 2015, she turned to Twitter to voice her opinion on vaccinations saying, "The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let's protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest," referring to herself as a grandmother to Chelsea Clinton's daughter Charlotte.

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