Democratic Party Platform – 2016 Draft (Part 4 of 6)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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Ensure the Health and Safety of All Americans

Universal Health Care

What the Democrats say here makes sense, but they miss a big chunk of the big picture. Yes, health care in a society like ours that can afford it should be a basic human right, and, therefore, universal health care should be a priority of government. (If you really want to question the constitutionality, I would argue that universal health care may be the perfect definition of “promote the general welfare” in the preamble.)

The big picture here is twofold. First, Republicans want to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) to return health care in the U.S. to a free market. This is ignorant, for lack of a better term, as about half of U.S. health care was paid for by the government prior to Obamacare: There was already no free market, so repealing Obamacare cannot restore a free market unless they are calling for the simultaneous repeal of Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA.

Second, the U.S. operates at a severe disadvantage globally in manufacturing because of the way trade agreements now work. Governments are not, for the most part, allowed to subsidize exports. Governments are, however, allowed to provide health care for their citizens. The problem for the U.S. is that most manufacturers here have employee health care as one of their main expenses, and this is a cost that cannot be offset by export subsidies. As such, U.S. companies are not operating on a level playing field globally. Give U.S. workers universal health care and U.S. exports should increase rapidly–which would provide additional revenue and taxes to help offset the cost.

Community Health Centers

This is really the $64,000 question: How much of health care do we want to make public? If we make community health centers public, as opposed to the current norm of mostly private walk-in clinics, does that put us on track for public hospitals and a reduction in private research hospitals?

I honestly don’t know if this is good or bad, but I do think it is something that needs to be considered.

Prescription Drug Costs

I was on a drug that cost, without insurance, $120 per month. (For this and other reasons, I stopped taking it.) Had I bought the drug from a Canadian pharmacy, it would have cost me $60, including shipping. For a six month supply.

So I know from personal research and experience how bad this problem is. Because U.S. consumers pay more for prescription drugs than other countries, revenues from us fund most of the innovation in pharmaceutical research–along with, as the platform says, a ton of wasteful spending on advertising.

What the platform misses is that we need to address the problem of the lengthy approval process for new drugs. I propose two solutions:

  1. Tort reform: If an approved drug turns out to be harmful despite preapproval research indicating otherwise, we need to limit the liability of pharmaceutical companies–as long as doing this results in a corresponding reduction in the consumer costs for that company’s prescription drugs.
  2. An international consortium for prescription drug approval. We should be working with the rest of the world to determine the safety and efficacy of new prescription drugs. There’s no reason that Europe, Japan, China, India, and the U.S. should each separately bear the costs of reviewing new drugs, and there’s no reason that the pharmaceutical companies should have to pay for the research and paperwork needed for each country separately.

Medical Research

The platform wants to spend more on medical research. I agree. But, as for pharmaceuticals above, we need to streamline the approval process for new treatments and equipment by working with the rest of the world.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction

The platform advocates for “expanding access to treatment, supporting recovery, helping community organizations, and promoting better practices by prescribers.” The opioid problem is increasing, and we need to encourage prescribers to use opioids as a last resort for pain management instead of often the first course of treatment.

Mental Health

Destigmatizing mental health issues is critical, and the platform calls for treating mental health and physical health similarly, which is an important step. The platform calls for a national initiative for suicide prevention–Zero Suicide–which doesn’t quite sit right with me. I don’t know if you need to treat suicide differently than the other results of mental health issues: I think that if you provide better access to mental health care and train all health care workers to spot mental health issues, reducing the number of suicides will follow. I don’t know if bringing attention to suicide will increase the number of people seeking help or the number of people looking at it as an appropriate outcome.

Once again, I am more ignorant on this issue than I would like, and I need to do more research.

Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

The Democrats get this one about 98% correct, but I am concerned about the universality of legal unrestricted abortion. (See here.)

Violence Against Women and Sexual Assault

Yes, we absolutely need to continue to improve how police and school officials treat violence against women and sexual assault, and the platform gets that right. The culture of rape and the sexualization of women is a serious problem, and we need to educate people that this is not proper behavior.

What the platform misses is that there is another problem even more poorly handled by the legal system: men who are raped and abused by their partners (of both sexes). In many states rape is defined as being by a man against a woman, so prosecution may not even be possible. If a man goes into a police station to report a rape–especially by a woman–the probability is that he will be ridiculed or asked why he is complaining. Surveys indicate that men are sexually assaulted as often as women. And woe to the man who fights back….

We shouldn’t treat it as a one-way street. Women shouldn’t accept abuse, and men shouldn’t ever feel that it is acceptable to abuse–but the reverse is also true. No one has the right to abuse someone else, and no one should ever feel that being abused is acceptable.

Gun Violence Prevention

Yeah, nice words, but your actions have spoken differently. Of the four amendments that came up last month, the one the party fought hard for the one that sucked (using the no-fly list without due process) and opposed two Republican amendments that were reasonable, if imperfect–they were still better than nothing, and they were good starting points for negotiation.

The party is more concerned in using the issue for marketing than in actually getting something done. (See A Fistful of Dollars for a more complete review.)

Principled Leadership

Almost a page of content, over a page of an anti-Trump tirade–not that ranting against Donald Trump is unnecessary or unwarranted.

Essentially, it boils down to globalism vs. isolationism, caution vs. recklessness, cooperation vs. coercion. I find it darkly amusing that the Democrats adopt these ideals internationally but not domestically. The platform does give President Obama a bit more credit than is warranted, but that’s understandable and expected for the Democratic platform.

Support Our Troops and Keep Faith with Our Veterans

Most of the rest of this section consists of reforming the Department of Defense and the VA, and I don’t have much argument with anything they say here.


Nine parts down, four to go. I’m guessing that means this will be a six-part series overall, unless one of the next sections is particularly complex. Off to see Chattanooga FC play Memphis City FC for the NPSL Southeast Conference Championship. Enjoy your weekend!

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2 Comments

Filed under Democrats, Health Care

2 responses to “Democratic Party Platform – 2016 Draft (Part 4 of 6)

  1. Pingback: Democratic Party Platform – 2016 Draft (Part 5 of ?) | Topher for Congress

  2. Pingback: Democratic Party Platform – 2016 Draft (Part 6 of 6) | Topher for Congress

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