UDecide Then Vote www.udecide2020.org

Donald Trump on Health

Rather than putting in place a coordinated national response early on, President Trump dithered (1), ignored his own cabinet, and denied that COVID-19 would surpass fifteen cases, saying "it will just go away" (2).  These delays have had dire consequences--a Columbia University study (3) has found that nearly 36,000 fewer people would have died if social distancing measures had been put in place just one week earlier. In addition, The White House (4) has had a consistently unorganized response (5), and has often barred health officials (6), such as Dr. Fauci, from making public appearances. Trump has acted contrary to his own government’s recommendations (7), stating “I personally think testing is overrated” (8), and inaccurately promoted various potentially-lethal cures (9), including injecting disinfectants and drinking bleach. Throughout the pandemic, the Trump administration has moved to further defund the CDC (10), the World Health Organization (11), and, at the end of June, just as new cases of Covid-19 were reaching all-time highs, moved to close 13 federally-run testing sites (12).

Despite White House insistence that Trump is “Working to insure that every American has access to better healthcare at lower cost”, the uninsured rate is rising (13), and costs are going up (14).  Before Trump took office, the uninsured rate had been dropping since 2010, when the ACA went into effect. Trump has perennially attempted to repeal the ACA, but has never been able to produce a replacement plan (15) that would not dramatically increase premiums, and cut coverage rates. Trump is currently advocating the nullification of the ACA in a manner which would deny coverage (16) to those with pre-existing conditions, and instantly throw tens of millions off their insurance plans. The Trump administration has worked to dismantle the ACA by cutting the enrollment period, and eliminating much of the ACA’s website maintenance and advertising budgets (17). 

The Trump Administration has failed to mobilize the effort necessary to end the Opioid epidemic.  In 2019, under President Trump, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced (19) more than $1.8 billion in funding to states to combat the opioid crisis. The White House’s opioid epidemic commission also put out recommendations (20) for localities in tackling the crises, and overdoes deaths have decreased for the first time in 28 years, mostly because doctors have been given different guidelines (21) for prescribing opioids. However, most experts argue (22) that nowhere near the amount of money necessary to stop the epidemic has been allocated. Further, to provide funds to construct the border wall, Trump pulled $600 million (23) from the Treasury Department’s drug forfeiture fund, and $2.5 billion from the Defense Department’s drug interdiction program, even though most drugs (24) enter the US come through legal ports of entry. Additionally, only 93 miles of wall (25) had been built so far during the Trump administration, and at least 90 miles of that replaced existing structures.

While the Trump administration has allocated more money to veteran services than previous administrations, it has had deep organizational trouble implementing helpful changes (26). These have  included leaving millions of dollars (27) dedicated to suicide prevention efforts unused, and funneling billions of dollars into private care unprepared to handle the issues facing veterans (28). Budget cuts have also targeted VA facilities across the upper midwest, and greatly exacerbated the VA’s staffing problems (29). Trump has shown profound disrespect for active duty troops (30), falsely stating that those who received traumatic brain injuries from an Iranian missile strike had “headaches…not very serious” (31), exonerating war criminals that colleagues have described as ‘freaking evil’ (32), and may have known that Russia was offering bounty’s on killed American soldiers, and did nothing. On the Russian bounties, multiple White House officials (33) have reported that the President was briefed as early as January.

Shortly after entering office, President Trump re-enacted, and dramatically expanded (34), the Mexico City policy, or “global gag rule". This policy prohibits recipients of U.S. global health funding from providing or referring patients to abortion services. Because nearly 50% of global HIV and AIDS funding (35) comes from the U.S. government, and most NGO’s which offer HIV/AIDS care also offer a wide array of health services (36), the rule has caused chaos and great harm (37) to those relying on services not related to abortion. Since the rule prohibits funding or supporting other groups which provide or discuss abortion, it has severed international partnerships (38), and dramatically set back anti-malaria and childcare efforts.