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As the country continues through the 2020 presidential election year, with the South Carolina primary this Saturday, we at National Crittenton feel it is imperative to highlight the many ways in which girls and gender-expansive young people are impacted by the positions and policies many of the candidates build their campaigns on. That’s why we’ve decided to issue a special series of the Centering Girls in Systems Change newsletter – a newsletter a week covering juvenile justice, gender-based violence, health and reproductive justice, education, child welfare and youth homelessness, and immigration. We will focus on the 9 candidates (8 Democrats and one Republican not including the President) running for office, taking a closer look at their stances and track records on issues that impact the health and livelihood of girls and gender-expansive young people across our country. 

Catch up on the previous editions on juvenile justicegender-based violence, and education justice.

WEEK 4: HEALTH CARE AND REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE

While most political discussions concerning health focus on arguments for and against universal health care, creating a new public option, and keeping private insurance–we know that girls and gender-expansive young people are critically impacted by health policies in ways that are often overlooked in mainstream conversation. For instance, we know that girls’ suicide rates are on the rise–particularly among those age 10-14–and those rates are especially high for young people who identify as LGBTQ+. We know that healthcare settings have not been spaces where transgender and nonbinary young people feel safe enough to disclose their gender identity, that adults take girls’ pain less seriously than boys, that racism has been linked to signs of depression among black teens, that young mothers have a higher prevalence of mental health issues, and that in California alone, the cost of childhood adversity adds up to $113 billion.

Much of this is not specifically highlighted in any of the candidates’ policy platforms. However, we have tried to focus on policies relating to mental health, community health initiatives, addressing bias and discrimination, and reproductive health. That being said, we acknowledge that most of the policies mentioned here are framed around adults.

 

Joe Biden, Former Vice President

Current Policies/Positions: Biden’s health care plan includes building on the Affordable Care Act by providing a public health insurance option similar to Medicare, “increasing the value of tax credits to lower premiums and extend coverage to more working Americans,” and expanding coverage to individuals and families with low-incomes. Biden’s plan would also automatically enroll low-income individuals when they interact with other institutions, such as the public school system, in supportive programs like SNAP. Additionally, Biden’s plan includes expanding access to contraception, repealing the Hyde amendment, protecting the right to an abortion, restoring federal funding to Planned Parenthood through Title X, rescinding the Mexico City Policy, addressing the racial disparities in maternal mortality, ensuring that people of all sexual orientations and gender identities have equal access to care free from discrimination, investing in community health centers, increasing access to mental health care, eliminating mental health stigmas, and supporting the implementation of the federal mental health parity law.

Track Record: Biden’s track record includes stated support for the Hyde Amendment as recently as June 2019, though he reversed his position shortly thereafter. According to reporting by The New York Times, Biden supports abortion rights, but that position has “swung back and forth” over the span of his 50-year career. The Congressional tracker GovTracks states that 8% of bills Biden sponsored as a Senator were about health. He also co-sponsored the Home Health Care Access Protection Act of 2007Healthy Families ActHealth Care Safety Net ActEducation Begins At Home Act, and the Trauma Care Systems Planning and Development Act of 2007Note: we have not included any legislation passed during the Obama administration because it is not technically part of Biden’s Congressional record.

Michael Bloomberg, Former Mayor of New York City

Current Policies/Positions: Bloomberg’s health care plan includes creating a “Medicare-like” public option, improving and expanding enrollment in Affordable Care Act plans, lowering health care costs, and protecting access to care in rural areas. Additionally, Bloomberg’s campaign site includes sections on women’s access to reproductive servicesmaternal health, and LGBTQ+ equality. These sections include health-related policies including protecting the right to an abortion, appointing judges “who respect established legal precedent,” ending the Trump administration’s domestic and global gag rules, repealing the Hyde amendment, increasing funding for Title X, requiring doctors to complete implicit bias training, increasing the number of people of color in the healthcare industry, making health coverage free for low-income women, ensuring LGBTQ+ individuals have access to gender-affirming care, and fully funding the Ryan White CARE Act.

Track Record: Bloomberg’s track record includes “efforts to tamp down smoking, to address diabetes and to bolster access to reproductive health” according to Politifact. Although Bloomberg’s website says that he expanded health care, helped New Yorkers get insured, increased life expectancy in New York City, and helped reduce childhood obesity, fact-checkers at Politifact say that “…the numbers Bloomberg points to are correct. But it’s difficult to say how much responsibility he had for those improvements, and how much was due to external factors,” like reforms that took place at the state level.

Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana:

Current Policies/Positions: Mayor Buttigieg’s seven-part health plan includes sections on Medicare for All Who Want ItImproving Health and Combatting AddictionSecuring a Healthy Future for Rural AmericaAffordable Medicine for AllA Women’s Health Agenda for the 21st CenturyLong-Term Care, and Health Equity and Justice. Some of his proposed policies include: addressing mental health and addiction parity by penalizing insurance companies that do not comply, requiring plans to provide free annual mental health check-ups, creating $10 billion annual Healing and Belonging grants for community health programs, directing the U.S. Surgeon General to study trauma and its effects; supporting the Rural MOMS ActMOMMA ActMaternal CARE ActMOMS Act, and MOMMIES Act; covering “preventive and comprehensive reproductive care for women, including abortion” under the Medicare for All Who Want It plan; abolishing the Hyde amendment; covering contraception and all methods of family planning under the Medicare for All Who Want It plan; ensuring that “Title X funding only goes to grantees that provide comprehensive and evidence-based family planning services,” supporting policies that provide implicit bias training, research into maternal mortality disparities, and Medicaid coverage for pregnant women to one year postpartum; supporting policies that require gender-affirming care and promote better understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity and use inclusive language; and supporting states in repealing taxation on menstrual hygiene products.

Track Record: Buttigieg does not have a legislative track record on health care and reproductive justice.

Tulsi Gabbard, Congresswoman from Hawai’i

Current Policies/Positions: Congresswoman Gabbard’s campaign site includes a section on “Healthcare for All” that says she supports: “a single-payer system where everyone contributes and is covered, and that also allow[s] individuals access to private insurance if they choose.” The “Human Rights and Abortion” section says she is “wholly committed to abortion remaining safe, legal, and rare.”

Track Record: Gabbard’s track record includes co-sponsoring the Medicare for All Act of 2019CONNECT for Health ActPrescription Drug Price Relief Act of 2019, Medicare Drug Price Negotiation ActExpanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, and the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act.

Amy Klobuchar, Senator from Minnesota

Current Policies/Positions: Senator Klobuchar’s campaign site contains multiple sections that reference health care and reproductive justice. Her health care and prescription drug page includes: supporting a public health care option that expands Medicare or Medicaid; expanding premium subsidies and providing cost-sharing reductions; addressing disparities in maternal and infant mortality as well as the lack of maternity care professionals in underserved rural and urban areas; launching new prevention and early intervention initiatives to address mental health and substance abuse; protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions; enforcing mental health parity laws; ensuring funding for Planned Parenthood under Title X, and ending the Mexico City Policy. Klobuchar’s “Equality for the LGBTQ Community” page also mentions “supporting training for health care workers to provide appropriate and equitable care to LGBTQ patients,” banning conversion therapy at the federal level, collecting data to track disparities in care, and making prescription drugs like PrEP more affordable.

Track Record: Klobuchar’s track record includes sponsoring the EARLY Act Reauthorization of 2019, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act of 2019, Veterans Access to Care Act, and Preserving Access to Life-Saving Medications Act.

Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont

Current Policies/Positions: Senator Sanders’ campaign site features three sections that contain information related to health care and reproductive justice: Medicare for AllWomen’s Rights, and LGBTQ+ Equality. His plans include creating a Medicare-for-all single-payer program, lowering prescription drug prices, repealing the Hyde Amendment, fully funding Planned Parenthood and Title X, securing the availability of safe and legal abortion, opposing efforts to undermine Roe v. Wade, expanding WIC, ensuring LGBTQ+ people “have comprehensive health care without discrimination from providers,” covering gender-affirming services under Medicare for All, and remove barriers to mental health care.

Track Record: Sanders’ track record includes pushing for the addition of funding for community health centers “to address the lack of medical access in urban and rural areas” in the Obamacare legislation. According to GovTracks26% of bills Sanders has sponsored are health-related, and includes theMedicare for All Act of 2019Opioid Crisis Accountability Act of 2019Community Health Center and Primary Care Workforce Expansion Act of 2019, the Access for All America Act, and the All Healthy Children Act of 2007.

Tom Steyer, Philanthropist

Current Policies/Positions: Steyer’s health plan includes creating a public insurance option to make care more affordable, fully subsidizing enrollment in a public option for individuals who “should be covered under an expanded Medicaid,” automatically enrolling uninsured Americans when they engage with public assistance programs like SNAP or TANF, fully funding the Indian Health Service, providing access to reproductive health services–including abortion–as a part of all health plans, encouraging community health centers, fighting the opioid and mental health crisis, and addressing “long-standing racial inequities in the health care system.”

Track Record: Steyer does not have a legislative track record on health care and reproductive justice.

Bill Weld, Former Governor of Massachusetts

Current Policies/Positions: Weld’s health care plan includes amending “certain features of the Affordable Care Act” and building upon others. This includes: slowing the rise of health care prices, allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, giving veterans more choice in their health insurance, and providing incentives for companies that provide paid medical leave. Weld’s campaign site does not include any policy information on reproductive health care or health care equity.

Track Record: Weld’s Track Record includes publicly fighting “to remove anti-abortion language from the Republic Party platform in the 1990s,” petitioning the federal government “as governer for additional Medicaid funding for Massachusetts,” and relaxing “the state’s Medicaid requirements,” according to PBS.

Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts

Current Policies/Platforms: Senator Warren’s health plans include: Addressing Our Maternal Mortality EpidemicCongressional Action to Protect ChoiceEnding the Opioid CrisisEnding the Stranglehold of Health Care Costs on American FamiliesReducing Health Care Costs in America and Transitioning to Medicare for All, and Preventing, Containing, and Treating Infectious Diseases at Home and Abroad. Among Warren’s proposed policies are making all children under 18 and families making at or below 200% of the federal poverty level immediately eligible for free health coverage under Medicare for All; dramatically lowering the cost of essential medications; protecting people with pre-existing conditions, eliminating work requirements as criteria for Medicaid eligibility; restoring non-discrimination protections in health care, reversing the Trump administration’s domestic and global gag rules; pushing forward  the CARE Act; creating federal, statutory rights that parallel the constitutional right in Roe v. Wade; passing federal laws to preempt state efforts that functionally limit access to reproductive health care; requiring states or local governments that have a history of violating Roe v. Wade to obtain federal approval before any laws or practices relating to reproductive rights are enforced; repealing the Hyde Amendment; supporting passage of the EACH Woman Act; holding health systems accountable for protecting black moms; and supporting the MOMMIES Act.

Track Record: Warren’s track record includes sponsoring the Native American Suicide Prevention Act of 2019 and co-sponsoring the Native Behavioral Health Access Improvement Act of 2019, Access to Contraception Expansion for Veterans ActIndian Health Service Advance Appropriations Act of 2019, Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2019, CREATE Opportunities ActPALSAct, Affordable Medications Act, and Put Patients First Act. According to GovTracks, 24% of bills Warren has sponsored are health-related.

 

Thanks for Tuning In

The issue areas highlighted in this series are particularly and uniquely important to the lives and opportunities afforded to girls and gender-expansive youth and were identified through an assessment of various advocate resources, news reports, and research. Information presented here on the candidates’ current positions was gathered from what they have committed to in writing on their respective websites–primarily focused on their published policy platforms rather than their interviews with the news media, social media posts, or debate responses. Information about candidates’ track records was compiled via the sources linked within this newsletter. Candidate’s platforms and records are listed in alphabetical order. This is by no means an exhaustive compilation of any candidates’ platform or track record, and we encourage folx to explore these issues further, as this is neither a full assessment nor an endorsement of any political party or candidate. Next week’s edition will focus on a different issue area and will be released on Tuesday.

Please feel free to reach out to Natalia Orozco with any corrections, questions, or suggestions for improvement at natalia@nationalcrittenton.org.

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