The United States spends more per capita on healthcare than any other nation in the world, and yet nearly ten percent of our country remains uninsured. I believe that everyone should be able to get quality healthcare, whenever they need it, without fearing the cost. We need to, and can, relieve Americans from the anxiety of fearing bankruptcy if they get sick, give healthcare workers the value and support they deserve, and free ourselves from ridiculously high costs that do not improve healthcare quality.
While I support policies that move our nation toward the type of universal care afforded to citizens of many other nations, including neighboring Canada and Mexico, I believe we have an immediate duty to protect and strengthen President Obama’s landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA). This 2010 law expanded health insurance to millions who did not have it before. It provided a solid framework within which to realize healthcare’s “Triple Aim”, first coined by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in 2007: 1) Expand healthcare access to everyone, 2) Reduce costs of insurance and care, and 3) Improve healthcare quality. What we have done so far is a good beginning, but there is more to do.
I stand for:
- Including a “public option” in the ACA marketplace: a high-quality government-run health insurance plan that would compete with the plans offered by private insurance companies. The plan would automatically enroll the uninsured, who could opt out if they choose. Similarly, people could choose to opt out of their employer-sponsored private insurance, and opt into the government-run plan. It essentially is “Medicare for All Who Want It”, giving people access to government-run health insurance but not forcing them into it.
- Making permanent the expanded federal subsidies for private insurance purchased on the ACA marketplace, and which ensured that nobody would pay more than 8.5% of their income on out-of-pocket medical costs. President Biden enacted these changes by signing the COVID-related American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021; these were important changes that we should make permanent, even as COVID recedes.
- Allowing CMS (the federal office that runs Medicare and Medicaid) to leverage its formidable purchasing power to negotiate prices with drug companies and device manufacturers. Private insurers in the US typically follow the CMS lead, so if Congress allows CMS to negotiate, the lower costs will flow to everyone.
- Backing our own Senator Klobuchar’s proposals to expand access to generic drugs, and to allow Americans to import lower-priced drugs from Canada.
- Supporting passage of the Affordable Insulin Now Act, authored by Minnesota’s Representative Angie Craig, which would cap insulin costs at whichever is less, $35 monthly or 25% of an insurance plan’s negotiated rate.
- Supporting our heroic healthcare workers through subsidizing medical education, especially for primary and community-based care, and ensuring that providers continued to get compensated for the tele-health options created during the pandemic.
- Working to expand access to mental health services, with an emphasis on youth and underserved populations.
- Enhancing programs already underway by passing the Resident Physician Shortage Act to ensure access to primary care marginalized and underserved populations.