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Election: Health

Hillary Clinton

Alzheimer’s disease: Secretary Clinton’s public health platform calls for increasing funding for the NIH and highlights three key disease areas as priorities: Alzheimer’s disease, HIV/AIDS, and autism. Clinton seeks to prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s by 2025 by investing $2 billion per year on research for Alzheimer’s and related disorders. Clinton also plans to invest in HIV/AIDS research. Her specific proposed policies include: capping out-of-pocket costs for drugs at $250 to make medication more affordable, expanding the use and availability of HIV medications like PrEP, extending medicaid coverage to aid HIV patients, and increasing the number of people treated for HIV/AIDS worldwide. Finally, Secretary Clinton intends to launch a “first ever autism prevalence study” in order to better care for adults on the autism spectrum.
Vaccines: Clinton has tweeted #VaccinesWork.
Cancer: As First Lady and as a Senator, Clinton has promoted funding of breast cancer research.
Infectious diseases: Clinton states she will “remain vigilant and do more to prevent and contain outbreaks” of highly contagious diseases. She believes that hotter and drier climates cause by global climate change as well as an increasingly connected world allow diseases to spread more rapidly.
Zika: Clinton supports the Administration’s request for $1.8 billion in emergency funding to develop a rapid test, develop a vaccine, and develop treatment. She also sent two senior advisers to Puerto Rico to study the effects of the virus. She supports public education of the threat, especially for pregnant women.
Lead: She plans to implement a national goal of eliminating lead poisoning as a public health risk within five years.

2016 Democratic Party Platform

Democrat priorities include women’s health and reproductive rights and defense of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They also vow to implement evidence-based sex education and family planning services. They oppose efforts to privatize, voucherize, or “phase out” Medicare in its current form or to cut its funding. They vow to implement evidence-based sex education and family planning services and recognize that fully funding the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to speed the pace of medical innovation is of critical importance. They plan to fight the drug and alcohol addiction epidemic, specifically the opioid crisis, by greatly expanding access to prevention and treatment, supporting recovery, helping community organizations, and promoting better practices by prescribers. They plan to help state and local leaders create evidence-based, age-appropriate, and locally-tailored prevention programs, extend community-based treatment for mental health conditions and substance abuse disorders, and establish a national initiative to prevent suicide. They also seek to employ a countrywide early screening outreach campaign to screen children for autism. They support increasing investments in public health and advocate for funding to develop diagnostic tests for the Zika virus, as well as a vaccine and treatments.

Donald Trump

Alzheimer’s disease: Studying the disease is a “total top priority for [Mr. Trump]” according to a 2015 Q&A session.
Vaccines: During the second main-stage GOP debate in 2015, Trump stated, “I am totally in favor of vaccines, but I want smaller doses over a  longer period of time. [...] We’ve had so many instances, people that work for me, just the other day. [...] A beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.[...] I’m in favor of vaccines. Do them over a longer period of time, same amount, just in little sections, and I think you’re going to see a big impact on autism.”
Ebola: Trump tweeted in support of a travel ban to infected countries.

2016 Republican Party Platform

The GOP platform urges all states and Congress to make it a crime to acquire, transfer, or sell fetal tissues from elective abortions for research, and calls on Congress to enact a ban on any sale of fetal body parts. Republicans oppose the Affordable Care Act, and seek to reform and reign in spending on Medicare and Medicaid. They support stem cell research without the destruction of embryonic human life.The GOP platform advocates a ban on human cloning for research or reproduction, and a ban on the creation of, or experimentation on, human embryos for research. Republicans recommend that the FDA place greater emphasis on hard science and approving new breakthrough medicines rather than focus on regulations. The GOP platform highlights the opioid and heroin epidemic, and calls upon the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to ensure that no physician will be penalized for limiting opioid prescriptions. Republicans note that public and private investments, along with talent, are needed to combat Zika and antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

Exerpts from Science Debate Questions

6. Mental illness is among the most painful and stigmatized diseases, and the National Institute of Mental Health estimates it costs America more than $300 billion per year. What will you do to reduce the human and economic costs of mental illness?

Clinton: "Under my plan, we’ll promote early diagnosis and intervention, including launching a national initiative for suicide prevention. We’ll integrate our nation’s mental and physical health care systems so that health care delivery focuses on the “whole person,” and significantly enhance community-based treatment opportunities. We’ll improve criminal justice outcomes by training law enforcement officers in crisis intervention, and prioritizing treatment over jail for low-level, non-violent offenders. We’ll enforce mental health parity to the full extent of the law. We’ll improve access to housing and job opportunities. And we’ll invest in brain and behavioral research and developing safe and effective treatments."

Trump: " Any mental health reforms must be included in our efforts to reform healthcare in general in the country.  We must make the investment in treating our fellow citizens who suffer from severe mental illness.  This includes making sure that we allow family members to be more involved in the total care of those who are severely mentally ill.  We must ensure that the national government provides the support to state and local governments to bring mental health care to the people at the local level.  This entire field of interest must be examined and a comprehensive solution set must be developed so that we can keep people safe and productive."

9. Public health efforts like smoking cessation, drunk driving laws, vaccination, and water fluoridation have improved health and productivity and save millions of lives. How would you improve federal research and our public health system to better protect Americans from emerging diseases and other public health threats, such as antibiotic resistant superbugs?

Clinton: "I will create a Public Health Rapid Response Fund, with consistent, year-to-year budgets, to better enable the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state and local public health departments, hospital systems, and other federal agencies to quickly and aggressively respond to major public health crises and pandemics. I will also ensure that our government has strong leadership and is organized to better support and work with people on the ground facing public health challenges. ... In addition, we need to do more to boost our preparedness for biological threats and bioweapons; to support research for new diagnostic tests, therapeutic treatments, and vaccines for emerging diseases; to build capacity in public health departments; to train the next cadre of public health professionals and ensure that public health and environmental health practices are standard to the educations of medical students; and to provide resources for states and local governments to plan for complex, multi-faceted public health threats, like the impacts of climate change, and build more resilient communities."

Trump: "The implication of the question is that one must provide more resources to research and public health enterprises to make sure we stay ahead of potential health risks.  In a time of limited resources, one must ensure that the nation is getting the greatest bang for the buck.  We cannot simply throw money at these institutions and assume that the nation will be well served.  What we ought to focus on is assessing where we need to be as a nation and then applying resources to those areas where we need the most work.  Our efforts to support research and public health initiatives will have to be balanced with other demands for scarce resources."

15. Public health officials warn that we need to take more steps to prevent international epidemics from viruses such as Ebola and Zika. Meanwhile, measles is resurgent due to decreasing vaccination rates. How will your administration support vaccine science?

Clinton: " As president, I will work closely with the talented physicians, nurses, and scientists in our US Public Health Service to speak out and educate parents about vaccines, focusing on their extraordinary track record in saving lives and pointing out the dangers of not vaccinating our children.  ... Additionally, the recent outbreaks of Ebola, Zika, and MERS are a wake-up call that we must continue to innovate and develop disease countermeasures.  Our scientists have made great progress. Yet there remains a troubling “innovation gap” between early phase vaccine discovery and industrial-scale production and vaccine delivery. We need to engage stakeholders across industry, non-profits, foundations, and government to bridge this gap and spur the development of a new generation of vaccines."

Trump: "We should educate the public on the values of a comprehensive vaccination program.  We have been successful with other public service programs and this seems to be of enough importance that we should put resources against this task."

17. There is a growing opioid problem in the United States, with tragic costs to lives, families and society. How would your administration enlist researchers, medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies in addressing this issue?

Clinton: "To combat America’s deadly epidemic of drug and alcohol addiction, I have proposed a $10 billion initiative, and laid out a series of goals to help communities across the country. We need to expand the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment block grant and support new federal-state partnerships targeting prevention, treatment, recovery, and other areas of reform. We must empower communities to implement preventive programming for teenagers; help individuals suffering from addiction receive ongoing, comprehensive treatment; and provide first responders with naloxone, which prevents overdoses from becoming fatal. We must also work with those individuals prescribing controlled medications, and ensure they are getting the proper training in providing these prescriptions. ... Finally, we must prioritize rehabilitation and treatment over prison for low-level and non-violent offenders."

Trump: "We first should stop the inflow of opioids into the United States.  We can do that and we will in the Trump administration.  As this is a national problem that costs America billions of dollars in productivity, we should apply the resources necessary to mitigate this problem."