The Next Vice-President: Health Care

The next chapter is tracking six focus issues during the current presidential election process. TNC has summarized the positions of the presidential candicates: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Now that the candidates have selected their running mates, TNC is looking at the positions of Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence on these issues.

On Health Care:

Do you support the ACA and efforts to improve or expand it?

TNC’s opinion: The next chapter believes that the Affordable Care Act is important and historic legislation but that additional reforms are needed to make health care more accessible and affordable.

On his website, Senator Tim Kaine says “I am committed to improving our healthcare system and lowering the growth in healthcare costs. The Affordable Care Act is a critical step in this direction.”

Kaine believes: “We must do more to lower costs while improving the quality of care through promoting preventive care, effectively using technology, paying our health care providers by patient outcomes and finding ways to reduce defensive medicine and lower malpractice premiums without taking rights away from injured people.”

In 2015, Senator Kaine cosponsored the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act, legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate prescription prices for people who are enrolled in Medicare Part D. Congress is not likely to approve the measure.

Nineteen states opted out of Medicaid expansion in reaction to the enactment of the ACA. In those states, many low-income people fall into a “coverage gap” because their incomes disqualify them for Medicaid but they do not have sufficient income to qualify for federal tax credits to purchase health insurance in the health care marketplace.

Kaine supports expansion of Medicaid for low-income people. In 2016, he cosponsored the States Achieve Medicaid Expansion Act. The proposed legislation would provide the same level of federal matching funds for states that choose to expand eligibility for Medicaid after 2014 as states that expanded Medicaid earlier under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, starting with 100% federal funding for the first three years. Although the bill is currently pending, it is not likely to win approval in Republican-controlled Congress.

When he was a member of the House of Representatives in 2003, Mike Pence voted against the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act, the legislation that created the Medicare Part D prescription drug program.

In 2010, Pence voted against the Affordable Care Act, calling it a “pathway toward socialized medicine.” Later, he voted multiple times to repeal the law. Despite his opposition to the ACA in the House, Pence accepted federal funding for expansion of Medicaid in Indiana when he became governor. Medicaid expansion is a part of the ACA. The Indiana Medicaid expansion is called the Healthy Indiana Plan, and it uniquely requires Medicaid recipients to make monthly payments into an individual health account in order to remain eligible for health care coverage.

While he was in Congress, Pence consistently voted against legislation intended to improve the ACA, and, instead, he voted to repeal of the law. Despite his anti-ACA rhetoric and voting record, Pence has the ACA to thank for the expansion of health care to low-income residents of Indiana earning 138 percent of the federal poverty level or less. As of January 2016, some 345,000 Indiana residents were enrolled under the ACA expansion of Medicaid in Indiana.


The vice-presidential candidates’ views on the other focus issues:

On Immigration

On Iran

On Climate Change

On the Minimum Wage

On Campaign Finance Reform

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