Women’s Health Issues Commentary: 2016 Election Has Significant Ramifications for Women’s Health

Media Contact: Kathy Fackelmann, kfackelmann@gwu.edu, 202-994-8354

WASHINGTON, DC (October 12, 2016)— The leading US presidential candidates and their parties’ platforms offer distinct and often opposing policy proposals on issues that affect women’s health, explains a new commentary in the journal Women’s Health Issues. In the commentary, Caroline Rosenzweig, Usha Ranji, and Alina Salganicoff from the Kaiser Family Foundation describe the Democratic and Republican parties’ positions on key aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), reproductive health, older women’s health, and violence prevention. “These policies reflect the parties’ very different approaches to the role of government, regulation, and abortion policy,” they explain.

The commentary, “Health and the 2016 Election: Implications for Women,” was published today as an article in press and will appear in the journal’s November/December 2016 issue.   Women’s Health Issues is the official journal of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, which is based at Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University.

While the ACA affects both women and men, Rosenzweig and her colleagues note that women spend more on healthcare (in part due to spending on childbirth and maternity care), so policies that affect costs and benefits are particularly important for women. While the Democratic party supports the ACA and aims to address costs with a “public option” health plan and a cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs, the Republican platform promotes repeal of the ACA and relies on the competitive market to drive down costs, the authors report. “Repeal of the ACA would likely lift its bans on gender-based premium pricing, a common practice in the individual insurance market prior to the passage of the ACA that allowed insurers to charge women higher premiums based on their gender,” they write.

The authors explain that the two parties also take very different approaches to reducing the rates of unintended pregnancies and abortions: On access to contraception, the Democratic Party platform commits to protecting funding for Planned Parenthood centers, while the Republican Party platform calls for prohibitions on federal funds for any organization that provides both abortion and contraception, and seeks to replace school family-planning programs with abstinence-only education. The Democrats advocate repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal funding for abortions, while Republicans seek to make its restrictions permanent, and both parties support the appointment of Supreme Court justices who share their respective views on abortion, Rosenzweig and her colleagues report.

“The Democratic and Republican Parties have outlined distinct, and often diametrically opposing, policy proposals addressing private and public health insurance coverage, reproductive health, and paid leave, among other issues, that will affect women in every stage of life,” Rosenzweig and her co-authors write. “Whatever the result, the 2016 election cycle is certain to have significant ramifications for health care, and in particular for women’s health.”

About Women’s Health Issues: Women's Health Issues is the official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, and the only journal devoted exclusively to women's health care and policy issues. The journal has a particular focus on women's issues in the context of the U.S. health care delivery system and policymaking processes, although it invites submissions addressing women's health care issues in global context if relevant to North American readers. It is a journal for health professionals, social scientists, policymakers, and others concerned with the complex and diverse facets of health care delivery and policy for women. For more information about the journal, please visit http://www.whijournal.com.

About Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University: Established in July 1997 as the School of Public Health and Health Services, Milken Institute School of Public Health is the only school of public health in the nation’s capital. Today, more than 1,900 students from 54 U.S. states and territories and more than 50 countries pursue undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level degrees in public health. The school also offers an online Master of Public Health, MPH@GW, and an online Executive Master of Health Administration, MHA@GW, which allow students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.