Preterm Births Due To Air Pollution – Which Presidential Candidates Can Address This?
A new study released yesterday by the journal Environmental Health Perspectices concludes that air pollution is a strong causal factor in premature birth in the United States, leading to approximately 17,000 preterm births every year. These premature births cost the United States economy over 5 billion dollars per year, according to the study’s authors.
Premature babies are at high risk of serious illness and death. Everyone should agree that sick and dying babies are a problem – but which leaders are actually willing to do what it takes to deal with this problem?
The Republican presidential candidates are spending a great deal of time speculating about abstract problems, such as the future possibility a secret terrorist plots to infiltrate the United States through the border with Mexico. Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Donald Trump don’t have realistic plans to improve health care funding and access in the United States, however. In fact, they want to take the United States backwards, by repealing existing health care legislation and putting nothing much in its place.
Donald Trump’s health care plan is to tell Americans to start saving their money in case of expensive medical catastrophes such as preterm birth. This approach doesn’t help millions of working Americans who weren’t born with millions of dollars of inheritance, as Trump was. In fact, Trump has said that he believes that Americans are paid too much money, and wants to see wages go down.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders disagree about what to do about health care policy next, but they both oppose efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Hillary Clinton has proposed small, incremental improvements in health care funding and access, while Bernie Sanders proposes a dramatic move to a universal single payer health care system that will simultaneously reduce health care costs and expand access to all Americans, regardless of income. Jill Stein, the Green Party’s likely presidential nominee, also supports a universal health care system.
When it comes to reducing air pollution, the factor identified as a significant cause of preterm birth in the United States, the Republican presidential candidates fail the test of resolve once again. Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and John Kasich all seek to weaken air quality standards in the United States, giving polluters broad new permission to spew toxins into American air. They regard the medical impact on premature infants as necessary to provide a boost to American corporations.
Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Jill Stein, on the other hand, all support expansion of clean, sustainable sources of energy. Hillary Clinton also supports the expansion of the consumption of dirty fossil fuels, pumped out of the ground through fracking, so her clean air record isn’t as strong as Sanders and Stein, who are both consistent opponents of fossil fuels. It’s fair to say that Clinton, Sanders and Stein would all work to reduce air pollution in the United States, although Clinton’s approach would be the weakest of the three.