Health Under the 45th: 8 Health Implications for the New Administration

By Chris Kulmann

With the inauguration of President Donald Trump, it seems as though we have returned to being a nation divided. As we are seeing through a vocal internet community, people from both the left and the right are acting in more extreme ways than we’ve seen in a long time. Regrets of yesterday and fears for tomorrow are giving birth to a community blended with rage and hope.

With any new administration comes uncertainty, and if we look past the raw emotions and focus on the truth, we may gain some insight for our own sakes. Or, we just may find that the rabbit hole only gets deeper, and end up with more questions than we bargained for. Still, there are many questions worth asking: How will these tumultuous times impact our health? What impact can this new administration have on us and our health in the long term?

So let’s take a quick peek together and ask some questions about how our health might be affected by the politics:

Physical Health: The Affordable Care Act

More popularly known as Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been a hot topic of late. Republicans in Congress are keen on the “repeal and replace” agenda towards the policy, and many people are concerned about this. Will people lose the coverage they have if Obamacare is repealed? Will they be able to get new insurance even if they have preexisting health conditions? What about prenatal care? What about birth control?

As of January 23, Senators Bill Cassidy (Louisiana), Susan Collins (Maine), Johnny Isakson (Georgia) and Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia) have proposed the solution. The focus of their program is choice. If a state chooses to remain on Obamacare, they may. A new healthcare plan is being implemented as well, and states will have the option to choose the new plan. [1]

States will also be offered a third option, which is to refuse federal health care services altogether. Although this seems like a fair plan, there is still concern over the financial competition that the new plan will create. Several democrats insist that the options will raise the prices of health care plans and premiums.

Although the details are not definite, it is believed that under the new plan, you cannot be denied for a preexisting condition, nor will women have to pay out of pocket for birth control. [2]

Mental Health: Big Pharma

When it comes to mental illness, there is much to be discovered. Neurologists and psychologists are still boggled by how exactly the mind works. However, despite not having enough information to formulate concrete answers, we certainly do have a lot of pills. Not only that, but we have a lot of secondary pills to battle the side-effects of the first set of pills.

In a similar vein, opioid addiction has become a hot topic of conversation in the news lately, as more and more Americans are becoming addicted to painkillers. Many questions have been raised as to why these painkillers are given out so easily and why are prescriptions renewed, given that they are so easily addictive. Questions raised by both of these problems point in the direction of Big Pharma. With each prescription filled, pharmaceutical companies profit while misunderstood mental disorders are treated for symptoms rather than with cures.

Both President Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont) have vocalized their disdain for Big Pharma and the Congressional corruption it has created. According to Trump, “Pharma has a lot of lobbies, a lot of lobbyists, a lot of power. And there’s very little bidding on drugs. We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don’t bid properly. We’re going to start bidding. We’re going to save billions of dollars over a period of time.” If President Trump and Senator Sanders can team up to successfully combat the corruption, we could see a huge shift not only in medication but the treatment of both physical and mental disorders. [3]

Intellectual Health: Education

Besty DuVos has yet to be officially been given the cabinet position as Secretary of Education, however, she has already caused quite a lot of discussion. At her congressional hearing, several senators figuratively stripped her and raked her over hot coals. At this hearing, her lack of experience in the field of education was exposed on all levels. She is a woman with ideas and plenty of wealth, but many fear that her lack of experience will be disastrous for education in the United States. DuVos affirms that what she doesn’t understand she will seek counsel from experienced advisors, yet again, questions arise. First and foremost, how will she determine what an “experienced” advisor is? [4]

DuVos is all about charter and private schools, which provide opportunities for students, especially those in lower-economic districts. She has also spoken out against public schools. Charter schools often have the finances or legal clout to provide education that cannot be recreated in the average public school setting. Public schools, on the other hand, tend to suffer when many of their brighter students leave for a charter school. When a student leaves the public school system, so does public funding that was originally intended to accommodate for that student.

Something worth considering with regards to the cabinet position for Secretary of Education might be to examine systems with a running track record of success throughout the country. Take, for example, Wake County, North Carolina. The entire county has a tremendously inspiring success story of remodeling their education system to benefit their students. [5] Whatever happens with this position, it is important to keep a close eye on the decisions being made. Equally as important is to make sure we understand the intent and potential unintended consequences of those decisions.

Social Health: Human Rights

The Women's’ March on DC was truly a huge statement, and there were supporting satellite women’s marches in over 300 cities nationwide, totaling over 3 million protesters. In this particular instance, these women were able to communicate and coordinate via social media, a method which usually gets a bad reputation for taking away from our actual social health. In this case, however, social media helped spread awareness and increase the number of protesters. [6

Regardless of where you stand on the new administration, the impact on the social health of this nation is undeniable. Imagine three million people from different walks of life uniting for one cause. That doesn’t happen too often. Yet in this women’s march, there were protesters in favor of Planned Parenthood, protesters against sexual abuse, protesters for gender equality, protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement and many others.

What did these people have in common? The belief that women are important members of American citizenry and that their voices need to be heard and respected. The most incredible thing about this march is that women from all walks of life, with different political agendas, all banded together to be heard.

Occupational Health: American jobs

One of President Trump’s running platforms was his plans to create American jobs. Part of these plans includes bringing the automotive industry back to the states. Many automotive, as well as other types of factory companies, have moved their labor force out of the country as a means of making more profit by reducing the cost of labor. President Trump wants to make a means of bringing those factories back to the states. “Buy American,” was a slogan he made during his inauguration speech, and this is one way to ensure the availability of American products. [7]

Another way the president plans on creating American jobs is by focusing on infrastructure. Bridges, airports, and highways can all be improved upon, and the work can be done by American laborers. [8] The idea is akin to some of the work programs FDR put into place during the Great Depression. In order to fund infrastructure program, however, monies will have to be allocated from somewhere. If such a thing can happen and these plans come to fruition, the increase in the availability of jobs could have a positive outcome for our occupational health.

Environmental Health: Climate Change and Global Warming

Scott Pruitt, an Attorney General from Oklahoma, has been nominated as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. This decision has been met with some uproar as Pruitt has spoken out against the EPA. Additionally, Pruitt also has connections with the fossil fuel industry. [9]

As of Monday, January 23, the Trump Administration has put a freeze on any grants and contracts within the Environmental Protection Agency. This truly puts a lot of pressure and confusion on the department. By not being able to go forth with any contracts or grants, essentially any new or developing plans that the EPA has is on lockdown. Not only that, but there will be no press releases or social media posts from anyone at the federal level on the subject. [10]

This begs an enormous amount of questions to be asked, outside of the obvious question, what exactly is going on?!  More specifically, though, what does this mean for our environment? What about the USA’s promise to decline their carbon emissions in the Paris Climate Deal? How will this freeze and seeming overhaul of the EPA affect our environment? It seems as if the EPA is going to undergo some serious changes, and the public isn’t going to get the full scoop. This is something worth watching, as it has major implications for our environmental health.

Financial Health: Trade Policies and Tariffs

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a deal between twelve nations that border around the Pacific Ocean. The idea behind the deal is to open up trade policies between the countries as a means of lifting tariffs and improving trade and economies. The deal has been scrutinized by members of both the left and right. Some even claim that the agreement would eventually lead to companies being able to sue entire governments. [11]

As of his first week in office, President Trump has officially withdrawn the United States from this deal. The U.S. was a major player in the TPP, and although withdrawing may, in fact, save us from the “bad deal,” what kind of impact with it have on us financially? Could this, as well as other of Trump’s economic plans help America become more financially independent? Or, might the other eleven countries take this out on America by making trading more difficult, or even stopping trading with the U.S. entirely? How this develops has major implications for the financial well-being of our country as a whole. [12]

Spiritual Health: The role of Religion

To quote the Beatles, “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me speaking words of wisdom, ‘Let it be.’”  This idea is quite common. When we find ourselves in difficult or even life-threatening situations, some people turn to religion. Even the old phrase, “There are no atheists in foxholes” applies here. Although it seems unjust, religious affiliations don’t seem to pack the seats in times of fortune and comfort.

Historically, conservative politicians have had a tendency to quote the Bible or use the teachings of God as a defense for an argument more often than liberals have. Now that republicans run the House, the Senate, and the Oval Office, what if religion becomes amped up only on one side of the political spectrum? The church is not a homogenous organization, but when Christian teachings are used in political speeches or press conferences, it can certainly seem that way.

What if the liberal side gets so frustrated that they see religion as an aid to injustice? If that were to be the case, we may see religious attendance decrease significantly. Perhaps people will lose faith during the next four years. What then?

On the other hand, attendance has already been dwindling in many religious congregations over the last few decades. With cell phones, television and the “busy” lives that many Americans lead, religion seemingly is becoming less of a priority. So now, with all of the fear and anger that has been formulating among the American people of late, how many of them will turn to religion?

Will people begin to search around for the faith that is right for them? Will people rejuvenate the teachings they learned in their upbringing? Or, what if people, so confused by the whirlwind of diplomatic change, seek out and find a new faith? Either way, we can likely expect to see some sort of change on the overall spiritual health of America.

In Conclusion

It’s hard to get a definitive answer on any of these questions at this point in time, especially since the answers will vary not only on political affiliation but also from person to person. Now more than ever, we must stay as informed as possible, and to make sure that the sources of the information we gather are credible. The best we can do is to make the time to pause in the middle of our stressed moments and to reflect on exactly how current events are impacting our individual dimensions of health.

*I’d like to personally thank the help of Reverend Brett Hertzog-Betkoski for his help in observing and discussing the potential implications of spiritual health.

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© Copyright Whatismyhealth, January 29th, 2017