America spends a larger percentage of its GDP on health care than any other nation. Health care costs--increasing at four to five times the rate of inflation--are spiraling out of control. These costs are a danger to America's economic recovery and a drag on the pocketbooks of Americans.
While there is much more work to do, continuing healthcare reform represents a real chance to control healthcare's costs, improve quality and delivery of care, and expand access to approximately 30 million Americans.
Moving forward, the policy goals of Congress should be to provide quality healthcare to all Americans at a lower cost.
Whether or not the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act, the nation's health care crisis is real. It is unacceptable that costs are still skyrocketing and millions still go without coverage. Should the Supreme Court strike parts or all of the law down, Congress needs to go back to the drawing board to come up with a proposal that will meet constitutional muster and tackles the nation's health care crisis.
I will continue to support the following health policies in the current law or any future one:
Insurance for 40 million uninsured Americans (and growing): All Americans should have access to good quality care. Coverage keeps Americans healthier, a worthy goal in itself. But coverage also provides the added benefit of lowering health care costs for all Americans overall--healthy people don't require expensive procedures and medicines. When people require less healthcare, all our premiums will go down. Health care coverage is a win-win for the individual and the insurer.
Coverage of Preexisting Conditions: Insurance companies should not be able to deny coverage to Americans because they are or were sick.
Ban on Dropping Coverage: Insurance Companies should not be able to drop insured persons from their coverage. People should have health coverage when they need it most.
Dependent Coverage: As our children have to stay in school or training longer and longer to have a shot at a family-wage job, young people should be able to stay on a parent's plan until they are 26.
Free Preventive Care: Preventive care is a win-win. It saves patients and insurance companies money because problems are diagnosed earlier, patients stay healthier, and costly procedures and medications can often be foregone.
Affordability to Small Business: Providing a health care plan should be a benefit small businesses can afford. Small businesses should get the help they need to offer coverage to their employees.
Holding Insurance Companies Accountable: Insurance companies should be required to spend more of your premium dollars on health care for you.
Bringing down Health Care costs
The cost of healthcare in America is skyrocketing. For the sake of individuals, small businesses, and the health of the economy, we can and should do more in the area of cost containment. Some key actions we can take:
Expand access to prevention and wellness programs that cut costs and keep people healthier.
Crack down on fraud and abuse in the private and public health care system.
Restructure the current payment system and incentives within healthcare to reward high-quality, cost-effective medicine--not waste and abuse.
Hold insurance companies accountable.
Attract and retain more Primary Care physicians.
Ten percent of Medical School graduates go into Primary Care, a fraction of what it once was.
The Medicare reimbursement system provides a powerful disincentive for primary care physicians, and needs to be changed. While the health care reform legislation made changes to this system, it must be expanded upon to ensure rural providers are not put at a disadvantage. Studies have shown when a patient has access to an ongoing primary care physician, their ongoing costs are reduced and they stay healthier.
For the first time, health care reform legislation allowed funds to go directly to community clinics to create more slots for more doctors to be trained.
Continue to incentivize electronic medical records, and other modernization of health care administration.
Innovation in Health Care
Encouraging scientific and medical innovation is the only way our nation will create a modern health care system. Investment now in new science, new technologies, and the adoption of best practices across the health care system will improve efficiency and provide better healthcare to Americans.
We need to:
Strengthen comparative effectiveness research and utilization throughout the health care system.
Incentivize flexibility in the public and private health care system to adopt best practices and reduce costs while increasing quality and value.
Modernize the FDA approval system to allow more competition, innovation, and safe, responsible patient access to emerging treatments and technologies.
Last year Republicans in Congress nearly shut down the federal government over funding for mammogram screenings and birth control. Congress needs to understand that using funding for women's healthcare as a bargaining chip is unacceptable. Women and their doctors are the ones who should be making their healthcare decisions -- not their Member of Congress.