Election 2016: The candidates on mental health
It’s Presidential Primary season and regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, we can probably all agree that whomever wins the 2016 presidential election will have influence on the mental health policies that impact us all.
On this Super Tuesday, why not take a quick break to read about all of the leading candidate’s thoughts on mental health and substance use issues. The leading candidates from each party (as listed in the polls at the time of this post) are listed below in alphabetical order with summaries of their policy positions as listed on their campaign websites, as well as a link to their voting records and websites:
Hillary Clinton, Democrat
Hillary Clinton does not make explicit reference to mental health care on her official campaign website, but instead references substance abuse and addiction.
Clinton is a proponent of prevention and empowering communities to “implement preventive programming for adolescents about drug use and addiction.” She also believes that recovery is possible through effective and ongoing care. Clinton’s plan focuses on “ensuring that everyone who needs it has access to continuing support and treatment.”
Additionally, Clinton says she will prioritize fostering more “collaboration and coordination between public health and criminal justice to ensure continuity of care for those who suffer from substance use disorders.” Her initiative also requires that licensed prescribers complete a minimum amount of training and consult a prescription drug monitoring program before generating a prescription for controlled medications.
Regarding mental health issues not related to substance abuse, Clinton introduced the Heroes at Home Act of 2006, and established new services for military members and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.
Cruz’s official campaign website does not mention or take position on mental health or substance abuse policy. In terms of general health care policy, Cruz supports the repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act and the institution of market-based health insurance.
Marco Rubio, Republican
Rubio’s official campaign website does not mention or take position on mental health or substance abuse policy. His campaign website takes a more general position that he will “expanded patient-centered health care options for veterans with service-connected disabilities.” In terms of general health care policy, Rubio supports the repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act and the institution of market-based health insurance.
Bernie Sanders, Democrat
According to his official campaign website, Bernie Sanders believes that “everyone has a right to adequate mental healthcare.” He authored one of the provisions of the current Affordable Care Act, which authorized $11 billion to improve and expand community health centers over a five-year period. Those health centers are designed to provide affordable primary care and mental health counseling to the underserved.
Additionally, Sanders introduced The American Health Security Act of 2013, which “provides every American with affordable and comprehensive healthcare services through the establishment of a national American Health Security Program that requires each participating state to set up and administer a state single-payer health program.” (Also known as “Medicare for All,” a single-payer system, dictates that all U.S. residents would be covered for all medically necessary services, including doctor, hospital, preventive, long-term care, mental health, reproductive health care, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs.) The act was written to provide inpatient services, long-term care, a broad range of services for mental illness, and care coordination, according to Sanders.
Sanders also led the passage of Vermont’s Mental Health Parity Act, requiring insurers to provide equal benefits for mental and physical illnesses.
Additionally, Sanders proposed 13 additional bills during the 113th Congress that would improve mental health care for veterans, seniors, and children.
Donald Trump, Republican
Donald Trump’s official campaign website addresses mental health policy solely in terms of veterans, stating that his plan will “support the whole veteran, not just their physical health care, but also by addressing their invisible wounds.”
Trump says he will also “increase funding for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury and suicide prevention services to address our veterans’ invisible wounds. … More funding will also support research on best practices and state of the art treatments to keep our veterans alive, healthy and whole. With these steps, the Trump plan will help the veteran community put the unnecessary stigma surrounding mental health behind them and instead encourage acceptance and treatment in our greater society.”
Donald Trump has not previously held public office and does not have a voting record available for review. View his official campaign website for more information.