How the 2020 election might shape U.S. health policy

Two experts from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health explored the implications of the 2020 election for the future of U.S. health policy in a special report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Photo credit: BBC

Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, Emeritus, and John Benson, senior research scientist in the Department of Health Policy and Management, co-authored the October 29, 2020 report.

Research has shown that policy decisions made by nationally elected officials in recent years have more closely reflected the views of their party’s adherents than the views of the general voting public—and this will shape the direction of key health policy choices, the authors wrote. They examined implications for the future after the election for seven issues, including healthcare reform, COVID-19, abortion, racismgun control, confidence in medical scientists, and aid to states and cities.

Looking at healthcare reform, the authors noted that if Democrats are in the majority, they’ll likely pursue a plan aimed at universal health care coverage. Polling results suggest the plan will build on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with a public option for health insurance.

If Republicans are in control, there would be no move toward universal coverage in the near future, the authors said. In addition, Republicans would likely push to give states more authority over the ACA and Medicaid, and they’d favor less expensive health insurance plans with more limited benefits.

If the Supreme Court strikes down all or part of the ACA, and Republicans are in the majority, they may seek to enact a more modest plan focusing on protecting people with preexisting conditions, according to the authors. If Democrats are in the majority, they’d probably try to enact another broad-based universal plan.

Read the New England Journal of Medicine special report: Implications of the 2020 Election for U.S. Health Policy

Read a Harvard Crimson article: Harvard Experts Explore Implications of 2020 Election for U.S. Health Policy in Report

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