Health care is a human right. Here is what I believe and what I’ll do on the important issue. Our focus must be on people and principles and not petty Washington DC politics.
The fundamental issue relating to health care is the availability and affordability of coverage, along with the concern that a catastrophic diagnosis, such as cancer, can lead to a decreased socioeconomic status or even bankruptcy. I support the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and will work to protect, expand, and strengthen its provisions. We must provide access to coverage for as many people as possible to help drive down costs. We must provide a more sustainable solution for the uninsured who use emergency rooms as doctor’s offices. Doing so drives up costs for hospitals, which is then passed onto those with private/employer-based insurance. The long-term goal is to figure out how to provide health care for the millions of Americans who are still not covered while keeping the costs affordable for everyone else.
The need for fundamental health care coverage for everyone is greater than ever. People have lost their jobs, and some may not return to the position they had before COVID-19. Small businesses have closed and large employers have eliminated jobs, yet people still need health care. We must have a system that carries people through the good times as well as the tough times, when they are working and when they have lost their jobs. I support a public option added to the ACA that provides a bridge for when times are hard. Additionally, I believe access to affordable health care must be independent of employment status and portable, meaning if you change or lose a job you can take your insurance with you if the new employer does not offer insurance or is more expensive. This protects against any gap in coverage going from one job to another.
Is the ACA perfect? No, but let’s make it better by keeping what works and fixing what does not. We must control the rising cost of premiums and deductibles for individuals that makes it hard for some to keep a plan. Current employer mandates must remain in place to ensure affordability. It makes no sense to throw out a successful system that has stood the test of time by decreasing the number of uninsured, in favor of a new unknown plan during one of the largest healthcare crises in our nation’s history. We need a system that provides access to more people, regulates the price of life-saving prescription drugs, and brings more transparency to upfront costs of care to eliminate surprise billing. We must ensure that all can access insurance even with a pre-existing condition, especially in these current times. That is why I support:
- Developing new measures to help us recover from this pandemic and prevent a future one including expanding resources for testing, facilitating rapid vaccine development, increased production of PPE equipment, and strengthening the supply chain to deliver critical medical devices like ventilators
- Providing access to affordable healthcare for everyone, regardless of employment status or location of residence
- Requiring full and up-front price transparency for all treatments
- Expanding Medicare to allow access at an earlier age and greater investment in Medicade to cover more children living below the poverty line
- Stopping extreme attempts to cut Medicare, cut Medicaid and repeal ObamaCare
- Fighting gross inequity in health care between the rich and the poor and those facing African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans
- Placing greater emphasis and incentives on education and preventative care to combat chronic diseases including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and other preventable diseases
- Expanding the use of telemedicine and adequately funding community health centers will help bridge the gap of affordability and access
- Incentivizing physicians and other healthcare workers to practice in rural and low-income communities, beyond what currently exists
Finally, the addition of a public option will open a new pathway to medical care for those that cannot afford private insurance. To that end, I am not in favor of eliminating private insurance. Instead, let’s improve the ACA to make it more attractive and affordable for everyone. Affordable healthcare is a fundamental right of every American citizen. Our Founding Fathers spoke of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and each of those is impacted by our health.