Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. It is necessary to a quality life. Ultimately, we need to move to a single-payer system. This must be a thoughtful process, because our national healthcare industry (insurance and providers) represents a sixth of the economy. Healthcare employs almost 500,000 people and comprises $2.5 trillion of the U.S. economy. We have the ability to provide healthcare for all while protecting current jobs. We cannot follow the slash-and-burn approach proposed by the current Congress.
The first step is to shore up the ACA and to make sure all states sign onto the Medicaid expansion. Then we must initiate a transition to Medicare for all. This will take time. Immediate change would cost jobs and negatively impact the economy. The current healthcare plan reduces coverage, drives up costs and increases profits for the insurance industry.
Of specific concern in the 5th District is access to healthcare. All but two of the counties within the District are rural and are challenged by closing hospitals and the lack of providers. I support:
- Promoting the use of community health workers to provide education, referral and follow-up, case management, and home visitation;
- Increasing funds for non-profit healthcare organizations;
- Providing higher education financial incentives for those serving underserved areas;
- Facilitating the delivery of consultative, diagnostic, and treatment services using telemedicine for patients who live in areas with limited access to care.
- Promote competition in the healthcare industry by allowing more kinds of medical professionals to provide care (e.g. nurse practitioners, PAs, etc.) through an overhaul of medical licensure and “scope of practice” laws.
- Allow the U.S. government to negotiate drug prices.
We must immediately address America’s opioid crisis. Every day, more than 100 Americans die from opioid overdose, and when the addicted are denied opioids, many turn to heroin. The issue is complex and requires multilevel solutions:
As we know, many issues are complex; opioid abuse is one. To start, we should:
- End the war on drugs! Stop fighting so hard to cut off supply of illegal drugs and put more effort into ending demand for opioids and their illegal counterparts.
- Rein in the over prescription of opioids by directing law enforcement to go after doctors and pharmaceutical companies pushing these pills onto people.
- Encourage the adoption of more holistic pain treatment in medical schools
- Expand short- and long-term treatment efforts in addition to making treatment more readily accessible for those who need it.
- Increase support for education, prevention, and recovery programs
- Expand healthcare in rural areas by investing in rural hospitals, addiction treatment centers, and other medical facilities.
- Focus law enforcement on those who sell or overprescribe opioids rather than those who are addicted.
Healthcare is a private matter between patients and their healthcare providers. Women must be free to make healthcare decisions without government intervention. I will fight to protect women’s and men’s rights and for access to healthcare for all. I support access to family planning and birth control.
Reproductive rights are currently under siege. The Trump Administration is outwardly hostile to gender equality and reproductive rights. I support a “Whole Woman’s Health Act” to “prohibit the enforcement of any abortion restriction that doesn’t have a legitimate health benefit. I also support passage of “Women’s Health Protection Act” to protect nationwide access to abortion as proposed by the Center for Reproductive Rights.