We need to be sure that national health care reform is implemented effectively -- and there are several improvements to be made, especially in the area of cost controls. In California, I supported State Senator Sheila Kuehl's legislation, vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger, that sought to establish a statewide single-payer universal health care -- and would have cut out the middlemen in the insurance industry who add tremendous costs. This needs to be revisited at the national level.
After the Governor vetoed universal health care for California, I supported legislation to require employers with 10,000 or more employees to spend 6-8% of their total wages on employee health insurance costs.
I also will support a stronger prescription drug benefit that cuts costs by allowing prescription drugs to be imported from Canada. We need to create true competition and ensure people have full access to safe medicine prescribed by physicians.
To improve the quality of hospital care, we should set national standards to be sure hospitals are properly staffed. I supported and helped pass Senator Kuehl's safe staffing legislation, and will work to create such a standard nationally.
Through personal experience, I've taken a greater interest in long-term care and treatment for seniors with dementia and Alzheimer's disease, and in autism, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions. Stem cell research holds great promise, but we also need to focus on the nuts and bolts of every day caregiving -- and on the looming problem of resources for a country whose people are living longer and experiencing the health challenges that often come with aging. We have to get ahead of the curve -- or these health care issues will prove to be a drag on our economy, while doing a disservice to the individuals whose lives are affected and their families.