March 16, 2016

The 2016 Presidential Race and the Stakes for Life Sciences
The current American election cycle is getting more attention across the political and social spectrum than any election in a long time. Participation in the primary process has been high and many individuals that once sat out the political process have become newly engaged and energized.
An obvious source for this change is the presence of two unconventional personalities; Republican businessman Donald Trump on the right and Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders on the left. Both candidates have attracted supporters who are often not considered to be mainstream by their parties and both are wild cards relative to some of the issues that are important for the Life Sciences industry. At this point in the election cycle, Trump seems to have the momentum to win his party’s nomination. Sanders, who continues to trail his rival, Hilary Clinton, is less likely to be nominated by the Democrats but his success has tended to shift the tone of debate toward a more activist approach on issues.
What does this mean for Life Science interests? So far, Trump is giving lip service, at a minimum, to calls from the right to completely repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Trump has promised to replace Obamacare with something that is more market-based and traditional in structure. Needless to say, such a change would be momentous at the very least for the healthcare field itself as well as for suppliers. Trump has also made it clear that he sees big government as the enemy; if he is elected and chooses to implement broad cuts, federal support for science, among many other things, could be jeopardized.
Sanders could scarcely be more different, though potentially just as disruptive. For instance, Sanders also wants to move beyond Obamacare and instead has proposed that “the only long-term solution to America’s health care crisis is a single-payer national health care program.” Furthermore, Sanders is demanding a war on HIV/AIDs and cuts in the cost of prescription drugs.
The candidate least likely to rock the boat is, of course, Clinton – who has had her own experience with tackling national health care issues and was part of the Obama Administration. As described on her website, healthcare remains a top issue but her solutions are less radical. First and foremost, she has called for “defending” Obamacare. She has also stated that the country should invest $2 billion per year in research for Alzheimer’s and related disorders. She, too, takes aim at prescription drug costs, calling for a “crack down” on rising prescription drug prices.
Policies and politics are complex and fluid, so it can be hard to prognosticate on what lies ahead. What a candidate might actually do after an election is anyone’s guess. Circumstances change and especially things like the state of the economy can drive events more than ideologies. Still, if there was ever an election of consequence for Life Sciences, this would appear to be it.
Like you, we will be monitoring the national “conversation” as it brings attention to the issues that drive our ability to ultimately improve the health and well-being of people in the US and beyond. As part of our civic duty, we should all think about ways to better and more clearly frame the choices, so that it is more evident that Life Sciences companies are not “the enemy”. We all have a stake in what develops, since no matter what the insurance mechanism ultimately survives, helping along on the journey to the best health outcomes depends on the country’s continued willingness to invest in science-based solutions.

Contributed by:

Lisa Keilty, Global VP of Compliance and Strategic Solutions, AHM

Lisa joined AHM after serving as founder of the Compliance Consulting firm PMC2 and spending over 26 years in the life sciences and meeting management industry. Leading such organizations as Pfizer, Bristol Myers Squibb and Biogen Idec through numerous international projects, financial transparency and reporting requirements, Lisa’s industry expertise has saved Life Sciences and Meeting Management organizations over 30 million dollars. As a member of the Business Development team, Lisa’s primary focus will be Thought Leadership, Demand Generation and Solution Design.