Quality, affordable health care should be a right for every American and not just a privilege for the few. As a father of four children, and the son of elderly parents with serious health care needs, I understand that providing quality health care for our families is one of the challenges we face daily. While my opponent fought against health care reform in Washington, I will work for all Americans to improve health care coverage and accountability. My priorities include:
Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act is critical in ensuring families' access to affordable and quality health care. Here in Maryland, the ACA will save the state $829 million and cut the number of Marylanders living without health insurance in half by 2020. Nationwide, Americans are already seeing some of the benefits from health care reform. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 3.6 million people with Medicare saved $2.1 billion on their prescription drugs in 2011.
However, one of the problems with the ACA is that it does not do enough to address the long-term costs of the health care system. It is a testament to our health care development that Americans are living longer than ever, but the costs associated with healthcare necessarily increase. I will fight attempts to repeal this landmark legislation, but I believe it is necessary to refine the ACA to create a framework that will lower long-term costs.
Technology will play an important role in reducing those costs. One example would be moving to electronic medical records. This would reduce medical errors and the costs associated with them and increase efficiency. We must also work to keep better track of all of the data that medicine creates to figure out ways to reduce costs and improve care. Recent legislation has finally begun to move us in the right direction, but there is more we must do.
Health insurance exchanges are a critical part of the Affordable Care Act. Maryland's Health Benefit Exchange will allow Marylanders to compare rates, benefits, and quality among plans to help individuals and small businesses find a plan that meets their needs. The exchanges will provide a level playing field for private insurance companies and provide purchasers with accurate and transparent information.
In order for these exchanges to succeed, they must earn the trust of individuals and small businesses. I will work to ensure that they operate with accountability, efficiency, and transparency.
Safety Net Providers
With our focus on reform of the current system, we must remember that disparities exist. It is vitally important we do not forget the role of "safety net" hospitals and community health care providers. I support provisions of the Affordable Care Act that encourage safety net providers to collaborate and create an integrated delivery system. By working together, they can address the preventive care and acute needs of under-served individuals and families. I will fight for these crucial health care providers and the communities they serve.