The Current Situation
Universal health care is more than a sound bite - it is a moral imperative. Forty-seven million Americans lack health insurance, and millions more are underinsured, living in fear of losing health care that provides minimal coverage at excessive costs. Despite spending twice as much per person on health care as other developed countries, nearly twenty thousand people die each year from lack of health care. Our life expectancy rates are far too low and our infant mortality rates are far too high. Our current system is a national tragedy.
Barry knows we have to transform health care in this country, with a renewed commitment to covering every American with low-cost, high quality health care. This requires openness to innovative ideas, and a willingness of government, business, and individuals to each contribute to solving our health care crisis.
Ideas for Reform
Health Care Markets: Barry Finegold believes we need a system of health care markets, non-profit purchasing pools that offer choices of various health care plans. By creating competition within health care markets between private insurance companies and a government health care plan, market forces drive costs down and quality up. He also believes that a new system of tax credits can make health markets an option for every family.
Key benefits of health care markets:
1. Portability. Unlike many current plans, participants can keep their health market plan when they leave their job.
2. Flexibility. Health care markets offer the choice between private insurance coverage and a public insurance plan. This choice encourages insurers to compete for the best products at the best prices, driving up the quality of care.
3. Ease of purchase. Since the health care markets themselves negotiate with insurers and collect premiums, business owners can focus less on administrative work and more on running their businesses. Moreover, under health care markets small business owners can pool together and buy insurance in bulk.
Protect Medicare: We must keep Medicare strong to ensure health and dignity for all elderly Americans. Barry Finegold believes that we must simplify Medicare so that every participant understands and can better utilize the options available to them. Since Medicare should be about helping the elderly - not the drug companies - Barry believes we must close the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program's "donut hole". Part D contains a massive coverage gap - the donut hole - that squeezes the middle class, and drives up the cost of prescriptions for those that it does cover. Future reform must be focused solely on providing the best care at the best prices.
Support Medicaid: Medicaid is the only means of insurance for millions of Americans living in poverty. Representative Finegold is committed to expanding Medicaid eligibility to cover poor Americans who are currently not eligible, and ensuring that it is fully funded to meet its commitment to those most in need.
Allow drug importation: Congress last year declined to adopt a bill that would have allowed the importation of prescription drugs from several other countries, including Canada. Representative Finegold strongly believes that we should open up the drug market to foreign drugs and generic drugs that have been certified by the FDA as safe for American use. The ban on drug imports and restrictions on generic drugs are a case of government protecting drug companies at the expense of working Americans. Overseas, drugs can cost two-thirds less than in the United States, where prices for brand-name drugs are among the highest in the world. Allowing sale of safe imports and generic drugs would significantly increase the affordability of prescription drugs.
Ban drug advertisements: Advertisements for prescription drugs divert resources away from research and development and create artificial demand for expensive and often unnecessary medications. Drug companies will spend almost five billion dollars on advertising this year, and the average person will see over thirty hours of commercials. Barry was the first candidate to suggest banning these advertisements. By following his lead, we free up billions of dollars for research and development of newer and cheaper drugs. The United States is one of only two industrialized countries that permit direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs. With a clear correlation between the amount a drug is advertised and the amount that it is prescribed, drug advertising contributes directly contributes to our high health care costs.
Expand Preventive Care: Preventing a disease before it occurs is both better for patients and less expensive then treating it once symptoms appear. We need to invest in preventive care through expanded coverage that includes diagnostic and preventative measures, and expand our treatment of chronic diseases to prevent them from devolving into more dangerous and more costly ailments.
Electronic Medical Records: Paper medical records are expensive and time consuming to maintain, and leave a large margin for error with thousands of paper records lost each year. Nearly all experts agree that we need to transition toward electronic medical records, but so far Washington hasn't taken strong action. Representative Finegold supports making medical records fully electronic. These records would save up to $160 billion each year, and would reduce the inefficiency of the antiquated paper system.