What a Trump win means for U.S. health care

With elevated heart rates and rising blood pressure, Americans watched as Donald Trump pulled an upset victory over Hillary Clinton in the U.S. election. Throughout the presidential campaign, health-care issues were debated and promises were made.

President-elect headed for the White House, with some changes to follow

President-elect Donald Trump smiles as he arrives to speak at an election night rally on Wednesday in New York. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

With elevated heart rates and rising blood pressure, Americans watched as Donald Trump pulled an upset victory over Hillary Clinton in the U.S. election.

Throughout the presidential campaign, health-care issues were debated and promises were made.

Now that the votes are in, questions are being asked. "What Will Health Care Look Like Under Donald Trump?" one headline in the morning news wondered. Another predicted, "Trump Victory Opens Door to Obamacare Repeal."


Killing Obamacare was a running theme in Trump's stump speeches. He repeatedly promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.

But how real is that campaign threat?

"What Trump has said he would 'do' is no guide to what will happen in America's complicated system of government," Ted Marmor tells CBC News.

Marmor is a retired professor at the Yale School of Management and an expert on health-care policy. "The election, while producing a partisan majority, did not produce a policy majority in general."

During his run for the presidency, Trump called Obamacare a "disaster." He wants to replace it with something less expensive and says he wants to boost competition by allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines.

About 20 million people have health coverage because of Obamacare, according to the U.S. Department of Health.

"Because 20 million Americans would become uninsured if repeal were simply enacted, no simple stroke of action is imaginable," says Marmor.


When it comes to reproductive rights, Trump has adopted an anti-abortion approach.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, right, debates with Trump during the third presidential debate Wednesday night in Las Vegas. (Mark Ralston/Getty Images)

In the third and final presidential debate, he said that under current abortion laws "you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month on the final day."

Clinton responded by accusing Trump of using "scare rhetoric."

Dr. Aaron B. Caughey, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health and Science University, told the New York Times that Trump's statement was "an absurd thing to say."

Trump said he wants to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, and "punish" women who have abortions, though he backed off on that later.

When asked during a debate whether he wanted to overturn Roe vs. Wade, a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that guarantees a woman's right to an abortion, Trump said he would appoint judges opposed to abortion.

Currently there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court that could lead to a change in the balance of power.

Drug prices

While voting for the next president, Californians also weighed in on a ballot initiative dealing with drug prices.

Proposition 61 aimed to stop rising prescription drug costs. But voters turned down the initiative.

With pharmaceutical stocks soaring today, it's clear that investors believe Trump's victory has taken the heat off high drug prices. Yet during the campaign, Trump accused his opponents of being in the pocket of big pharma.

"They get the politicians, and every single one of them is getting money from them," he said in a campaign stop in New Hampshire in February.

A demonstrator holds up an EpiPen during a protest. High drug prices became a campaign issue during the U.S. presidential race. (Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg)

But compared with Clinton, Trump's critique of drug prices was less vehement during the campaign, even in the midst of public outrage over the EpiPen price controversy, or the backlash against Martin Skhreli's blatant drug price hikes.

Still, Trump proposed several measures that could affect the pharmaceutical industry, calling for the importation of cheaper drugs manufactured offshore, and allowing the federal Medicare program to directly negotiate the price it pays for drugs, which would introduce a competitive bidding process for federal drug purchases.

"When it comes time to negotiate the cost of drugs, we are going to negotiate like crazy," Trump said.

The fight against high drug prices has now suffered a major setback because of the California vote. The pharmaceutical lobby group spent more than $100 million to defeat the bill.


Several states weighed in on a ballot initiative on legalizing recreational marijuana. California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada legalized pot. Meanwhile, voters in Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota voted to legalize medical marijuana.

California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada voted on the legalization of recreational pot in the vote Nov. 8. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Meanwhile, the Canadian government has said it would be introducing new legislation dealing with marijuana next spring.

With files from Kelly Crowe


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