The Health 202: ‘Bidencare’ makes its debut at the final presidential debate

“What I’m going to do is pass Obamacare with a public option,” Biden said. It will “become Bidencare.” 

“The Bidencare proposal will, in fact, provide for that affordable health care, lower premiums,” he said a few minutes later.

It was the first time Biden has been heard to use the term publicly – and striking he chose to use it on the debate stage.

For one thing, the battles over Obamacare – and President Clinton’s “Hillarycare” attempt way before that – have well illustrated the political risks of getting one’s name entangled with a health reform effort. 

The Obama administration eventually embraced the term Obamacare, but it was only after realizing that attempts to quash the name invented by Republicans were fruitless.

Doug Andres, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

Biden has spent far more time berating the Trump administration for its pandemic response and unpopular stance on the 2010 health-care law. 

It’s been a relatively easy task, considering Americans are in the midst of a pandemic that has hit their country harder than nearly every other developed nation. The first thirty minutes of the debate – marked by a return to civility compared with the September debate – did feature an extended back and forth between Trump and Biden over what the national response should look like. 

But later on in the evening, the candidates also tangled over a topic that was vigorously debated during the Democratic primaries but virtually ignored in the general election: how to improve the nation’s porous and insufficient health insurance offerings.

Trump insisted that Biden wanted “socialized medicine.” Biden reminded Trump the primary proves he does not. 

Biden’s former opponents Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) – and even, on occasion, Biden’s now-running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) – blasted Biden for supporting the system of private health insurance which is still responsible for covering more than half of all Americans.

Biden positioned himself as a moderate on the issue, and stuck fast to it, refusing to back dramatic and sweeping proposals to replace private coverage with a government-run “Medicare-for-all” plan for all Americans. Instead he supports an incremental approach of adding a public option to the marketplaces, which people could choose to purchase.

That didn’t stop the president from trying cast his plan as socialist and falsely claiming it would strip 180 million Americans of their employer-sponsored coverage. “He wants socialized medicine,” Trump said. “Bernie Sanders wants it. The Democrats want it. You’re going to have socialized medicine.”

“He’s very confused,” Biden shot back. “He thinks he’s running against somebody else. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them.”

“The idea that I want to eliminate private insurance – the reason why I had such a fight with 20 candidates for the nomination – was I support private insurance,” Biden added.

A public option is just one of several proposals Biden’s campaign has laid out on health policy. They include increasing the ACA’s marketplace subsidies, allowing

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The final 2020 presidential election debate

Donald Trump, Joe Biden are posing for a picture

© Getty Images

Donald Trump’s more sedate debate performance on Thursday night was a departure in tone from his chaotic performance weeks ago, but the President continued to cast his warped view of the world as truth.

In reality, Trump’s performance was riddled with false claims, on topics ranging from the coronavirus to foreign policy to immigration. And while former Vice President Joe Biden made some missteps and stretched the truth at times, his comments essentially hewed to the truth.

Trump came into the debate needing to clean up from his first performance and he clearly listened to his advisers who urged him to turn down the heat and stop his incessant interruptions. But the President relied heavily on the same rhetoric that fills his raucous rallies and Twitter feed, just set at a lower volume. His lies ranged from the political, like when he falsely claimed the coronavirus was “going away” or that a vaccine to end the pandemic was ready, to the personal, like when he falsely said Biden has “houses all over the place” or lied about Biden receiving millions of dollars from Russia. And his lies were clearly aimed at politically important issues, like health care, the economy and coronavirus, three topics that voters say are critical to them as they head to the ballot box.

Biden’s misstatements were more on the margins, like when he falsely claimed that he never said he opposed fracking, understated the number of people for whom Trump has granted clemency and made a misleading claim about health care coverage losses under Obamacare.

CNN’s team watched the second and final presidential debate. Here are the facts.


Trump: Coronavirus is ‘going away’

Trump claimed the virus is going away. “We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away,” Trump said.

Facts First: This is false. The US coronavirus situation — as measured by newly confirmed cases, hospitalizations and the test positivity rate — is getting worse, not better. There is no basis for his vague claim that we are “rounding the corner.”

Trump has baselessly claimed for eight months that the virus would disappear or was currently disappearing.

Holmes Lybrand

Biden: An additional 200,000 Americans will die from Covid-19 by the end of the year

Biden said: “The expectation is we’ll have another 200,000 Americans dead the time between now and the end of the year.”

Facts First: This needs context.

One study published in October in the medical journal JAMA showed that there were more than 225,000 excess deaths in a five-month period at the start of the year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, compared to past years. (Excess deaths are the number of deaths beyond what historic numbers of deaths have been in a similar time period.) The study then predicted that the total number of excess deaths would likely be greater than 400,000. But as of Thursday evening, 223,000 Americans have lost their lives to Covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

These are merely

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COVID-19 safety precautions at the presidential debate are ‘adequate,’ but may leave some in danger, experts say

Clear dividers are seen on stage as preparations are made for the final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Clear dividers are seen onstage as preparations are made for the final presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will face off in the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville on Thursday night, just weeks after the president contracted and recovered from COVID-19. Experts say the precautions that have been taken to prevent the spread of the virus are a step in the right direction, but could still leave some of the estimated 200 attendees at risk.

The Commission on Presidential Debates, which sponsors the event, has reportedly put several protective measures in place, including a mask mandate for attendees, pre-testing ahead of the event and social distancing in the audience. Biden has reportedly already tested negative for the virus, and in an email from Yahoo Life asking about President Trump’s status, a spokesperson for his campaign replied that “the President will be cleared by the White House Medical Unit.” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Thursday the president was tested for COVID-19 on his flight to Nashville and was negative.

The two candidates will be separated by plexiglass dividers, and the Nashville Public Health Department is reportedly also installing separate HVAC systems near each candidate to increase airflow. But in a press conference Thursday morning, Nashville Mayor John Cooper warned that a “surge” in cases was occurring in the city, now averaging 175 new infections a day. “Health experts have warned that we need to double down on masks and social distancing to stop this surge in its tracks,” Cooper said.

Nashville experienced a drop in daily COVID-19 cases in September, but city officials have reported a rapid rise in the last weeks — including 249 cases in the past 24 hours alone. In total, Davidson County, where Nashville is located, has 30,115 cases and 328 deaths since the pandemic began, according to Thursday data from the Tennessee Department of Health.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has highlighted the importance of ventilation, Dr. Saskia Popescu, an infection prevention specialist at George Mason University, says that the HVAC systems aren’t necessarily as useful as they seem. “I’m assuming they’re saying that they’re using separate air handling units for the candidates … but I’m not sure how that would be a panacea,” she tells Yahoo Life. “Increasing air exchanges and filtration is the goal.”

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, thinks the precautions taken to protect Trump and Biden are slightly over the top. “I think that they’re just kind of going above and beyond for most of this,” Adalja tells Yahoo Life. “I don’t think that is going to make much of a difference in transmission risk, especially since President Trump is not really a person who can be infected with the virus.” The audience precautions, however, are sufficient.

The fact

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Worsening opioid crisis overshadowed in presidential race

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Like millions of Americans, Diane Urban watched the first presidential debate last month at home with her family. When it was over, she turned off the television and climbed into the bed her 25-year-old son Jordan used to sleep in.

It was where she found Jordan’s lifeless body after he overdosed on the opioid fentanyl one morning in April 2019.

After watching President Donald Trump target the son of former Vice President Joe Biden for his history of substance abuse, Urban was reminded again of the shame her son lived with during his own battle with addiction.

“I just think that Trump doesn’t understand addiction,” said Urban, 53, a Republican from Delphos, Ohio, who voted for the president in 2016.

The exchange over Hunter Biden’s struggle with addiction was brief, and neither candidate was asked a follow-up question about their plan to tackle the nation’s drug addiction and overdose crisis.

Though Biden’s campaign has a policy paper on addiction, the issue has barely registered in this year’s presidential campaign, overshadowed by the human and economic toll of the coronavirus outbreak and the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic. Yet drug addiction continues its grim march across the U.S., having contributed to the deaths of more than 470,000 Americans over the past two decades.

And it’s only getting worse.

After a one-year drop in 2018, U.S. opioid overdose deaths increased again in 2019, topping 50,000 for the first time, according to provisional data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That accounted for the majority of the 71,000 fatal overdoses from all drugs. While national data isn’t available for most of 2020, The Associated Press surveyed individual states that are reporting overdoses and found more drug-related deaths amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Ohio, a battleground state in the presidential contest, is on track to have one of its deadliest years of opioid drug overdoses. More residents died of overdoses in May than in any month in at least 14 years, according to preliminary mortality statistics from the state health department.

As Trump nears the end of his first term, some supporters, including Urban, feel left behind by his administration’s drug policies.

During Trump’s first two years in office, 48 of the 59 Ohio counties with reliable data saw their overdose death rates get worse, according to an analysis of CDC data by The Associated Press. The data was compared to overdose death rates in 2015 and 2016, the last two years of the Obama administration.

What that looks like on the ground is mothers donating to GoFundMe accounts and Facebook campaigns so other mothers can bury their children who’ve overdosed. Some parents even reserve a casket while their child is still alive so they are prepared for what they believe is inevitable.

Others become legal guardians of their grandchildren. Among them are Brenda Stewart, 62, and her husband, who adopted their grandchildren a decade ago as their son struggled with addiction. That led Stewart to start

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Presidential Elections May Be Bad for Your Health

The stress of presidential elections may increase the incidence of heart attacks and strokes, researchers report.

Scientists tracked hospitalizations for acute cardiovascular disease in the weeks before and after the 2016 presidential election among about three million adults who were enrolled in the Kaiser Permanente Southern California health care system.

The study, in PNAS, found that hospitalizations for cardiovascular disease in the two days following the election were 61 percent higher than in the same two days of the preceding week. The rate of heart attack increased by 67 percent and of stroke by 59 percent in the two days following the election. The results were similar regardless of the age, race or sex of the patients.

The exact physiological mechanism is unknown, but previous studies have found similar increases in cardiovascular disease risk after traumatic public events, including earthquakes, industrial accidents and terrorist incidents like the World Trade Center attack of 2001 and the Charlie Hebdo shootings in 2015.

Psychological stressors such as anger, anxiety and depression have also been associated with sudden increases in the risk for cardiovascular events in the days, or even hours, following such events. The authors suggest that the stress of elections may provoke similar emotions.

“These are important findings,” said the lead author, Matthew T. Mefford, a postdoctoral research fellow at Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “This should really encourage health care providers to pay more attention to the ways that stress is linked to political campaigns and how election outcomes may directly impact health.”

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