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Life Health > Health Insurance

Trump and Clinton: Care not given

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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton frequently “pivoted” during the three 2016 presidential debates when they wanted to talk about something they thought was important, such as how awful they believe the other candidate is.

They talked briefly about Medicaid, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act during the third debate Wednesday, but they never used their power of the pivot to steer away from a question about anything else to talk about the aging of the American population. 

Trump pivoted the conversation ACA repeal just once, at the beginning of the second debate, when he mentioned his effort to repeal the ACA in a response to a teacher’s question about how he has been “modeling appropriate and positive behavior for today’s youth.”

Related: Trump and Clinton squeeze ACA and Medicare into debate

I looked through the debate transcripts created by The Washington Post for candidates’ use of the terms “Medicare” and “Medicaid.”

Trump answered a question about entitlement benefits during the second debate, but the only time he actually uttered any of those terms was one time during the second debate, when he said he’d create a Medicaid block grant system.

Clinton used the terms a total of five times.

In other words: Each of them wants to become the chief executive officer of the United States of America, the holding company for two of the biggest health insurance providers in the world, and the biggest long-term care benefits provider in the world. Most of what each of them said about the health insurance and long-term care programs during the debates could be expressed in a few 140-character tweets.

They were willing to use political capital to pivot for sake of getting more time to accuse the other of groping or corruption, but not to promote the idea of keeping our elderly parents, or us, off the sidewalks.

Tim Kaine and Mike Pence paid somewhat more attention to the government’s big health insurance and long-term care benefits programs earlier this month, when they participated in their vice presidential debate.

In just one debate, Pence used the word Medicare twice, and Kaine used it six times.

Pence also took the opportunity to hijack a discussion about abortion to refer to the elderly.

While talking about his views about abortion, Pence said, “A society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable, the aged, the infirm, the disabled, and the unborn.”

In other words: Pence pivoted from the subject of abortion to the subject of care for the aged.

Whether people agree or disagree with Pence about his views on abortion, health policy or the aged, at least he cared enough (or cared enough about giving the impression that he cared enough) to mention the aged.

Allison Bell is health channel editor for


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