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Issue Position: Health Care

Issue Position

Location: Pueblo, CO

Too many Americans are uninsured or underinsured and can't find access to affordable, quality care. Costs for small businesses and entrepreneurs are too high. Emergency rooms are swamped with indigent care because too many people don't have access to general practitioners and preventative care. Too little has been done to eliminate duplicative or unnecessary procedures, since medical professionals are too-often reimbursed based on what they perform, rather than on outcomes. All of this creates a perfect storm, where health care costs now account for nearly one-fifth of our GDP, and millions of Americans remain uninsured, with the rest of us paying for their indigent care.

My core principles on health care are simple: 1) every American deserves to have affordable access to health care; 2) nobody should be one medical emergency away from financial ruin; 3) small businesses should have the ability to provide affordable insurance to their employees without breaking the bank; 4) rural areas need some special attention.

These views come from listening to my constituents in Pueblo, to the hundreds I've met on the West Slope struggling with this issue, and to my own personal experiences. About a year ago my aunt Camille had a stroke. The most tragic thing about it, other than the physical struggles she faced, was that in her last year of life, she lost everything she had ever worked for. She lost her home, she lost her savings and sadly this past March, lost her life. This is not the promise this country is founded on. Nobody should face financial ruin because of one medical emergency.

While there have been steps made in the right direction, I still feel we have a long way to go to truly ensure health care is more affordable and accessible. It's time now for people from both parties to sit down and fix problems with the Affordable Care Act while protecting the parts we agree on. We should be focusing on helping small businesses and working families have access to quality care.

The ACA has several positive improvements to the health care system, like prohibiting discrimination for pre-existing conditions, extending the age students can stay on their parents' coverage and closing the Medicare prescription donut hole. It, however, is not a perfect bill. I still have concerns about the mandate. I understand the necessity to increase the pool of those insured to spread financial risks and lower costs, but I have always had serious concerns with the mandate to require people to buy a product from a private company; especially when history has shown that people often are limited in their options for affordable insurance. For some, there might only be one or two available coverage options depending on where they live. A mandate would then require a person to purchase from a monopoly.

One of the ways to deal with costs is to spread them more broadly. That's what the mandate seeks to do. But if there's a better way -- more tax credits for small businesses for example to help with their employees, I'm for it. I also believe we can reach similar levels of coverage, without penalizing individuals, by providing tax credits to individuals who purchase insurance when their place of work doesn't provide it.

Obviously healthcare is a complicated issue with no silver-bullet. No one has all the answers, myself included, but what we need is people who are capable of coming to the table, working together, to address continuing concerns regarding access and affordability. This is not impossible if policymakers put aside their partisanship to serve their constituents first.

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