Together We must:
- Stabilize the Marketplace
- Expand coverage to more people
- Reduce the cost of healthcare
Healthcare is too important of an issue for partisan politics. While our politicians are playing a game of ideological tug-o-war with our healthcare system, people need access to care and relief from rising costs today. We cannot waste more time talking about this without taking meaningful action! Sweeping reforms will not get support with a strong two-party system that is divided on the issue, and only a bipartisan solution will last long-term. Fortunately, there are many reasonable improvements that can be made to our current laws which will combat both rising costs and declining options in the marketplace, as well as expand public options that can be made to further decrease our uninsured population.
Where are we today?
The Affordable Care Act (also known as the “ACA” or “Obamacare”) was and is an imperfect law, but it did put us on a path towards quality affordable healthcare for all Americans. Unlike the the American Health Care Act (also known as the “AHCA” or “Trumpcare”) which Cathy McMorris-Rodgers pushed on Eastern Washington that would have caused 22 million citizens to lose coverage, the ACA did accomplish its objective of giving access to healthcare to millions of Americans. Since being enacted into law, the nation's uninsured rate has dropped from 18% to a low of 10.9% at the end of 2016. That translates into 20.4 million more people who gained access to health insurance, with 18 million more still in need. Whether or not you agree with the way in which the ACA was enacted, hopefully we can agree that more people having insurance is a good thing, if not just for moral reasons, then because having more people covered helps keep healthcare costs more manageable and predictable across all markets (i.e. less people without coverage going to ito emergency rooms for care). Even though the uninsured rate was reduced dramatically, the ACA did little to address the underlying costs of healthcare, which have continued to rise at too high of a rate and the reason why we still have an urgency to fix this problem.
It is now time for Congress to set aside their egos and agendas, and to do what is right for their constituents.
The Path Forward
It is abundantly clear that the only healthcare solution that will survive long-term is a bipartisan solution. Party leadership is playing ideological tug-o-war with healthcare. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers and the Republican leadership proposed a dead-on-arrival “Repeal and Replace” plan, which would have done nothing to improve our healthcare system. The Democrats are largely supportive of a “Single Payer” plan which, if we are honest with ourselves, currently has a 0.00% chance of passing through a Republican led House, Senate and White House, as the idea is ideologically toxic with conservatives.
While the parties go back and forth resisting each others vastly different approaches to reforms, there are many reasonable improvements that can be made to expand healthcare access and give citizens relief to growing healthcare costs today. In fact, it has been encouraging to see many different groups also come to the conclusion that a bipartisan solution is needed: the Bipartisan Policy Center wrote an excellent plan, Governors John Kasich (R) and John Hickenlooper (D) created a bipartisan plan together with other Governors signed, and there is a group of Senators led by Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) now working on a small bipartisan healthcare bill, as well as the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus in the House led by Congressmen Tom Reed (NY-23) and Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5).
To create a better Healthcare system, I will support efforts that:
Stabilize the Marketplace
- Permanently fund CSRs (Cost Sharing Reductions)
- Place CSR payments under Congressional authority instead of Executive branch
- Create a federal stability fund, a reinsurance program that will reduce premiums for those with extremely expensive medical needs.
Expand Coverage Options and Quality
- Increase access to public options, such as:
- Allowing states to create a public option for purchase if there are 2 or less private marketplace options available
- Medicare buy-in available at age 55
- Encourage 19 remaining states to expand Medicaid
- Encourage states to create a public Basic Health Program (BHP) option for low-income residents to purchase, who would otherwise be eligible to purchase coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace but do not qualify for Medicaid or CHIP
- Prioritize funding for mental health and substance abuse care
- Address the over-prescription of opioids and standards for when they should be used
- Improve care options in rural communities
- Emphasize preventative care coverage, which promotes better health and wellness and lower long-term medical costs
Reduce the Costs of Care
- Create a marketplace between healthcare providers and the insurance companies - Healthcare is the ultimate "sellers market," and patients like you and I have zero power to negotiate prices with providers. We need to create market dynamics that put pressure on providers to keep their rates down.
- Close the the Medicare Part D drug plan coverage gap (also called the "donut hole")
- End cost-gouging in the industry through cost transparency and pricing protections
- Review impact of limiting annual increases on medical premiums to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) so that private insurers cannot arbitrarily hike up rates
- Focus on creating health outcomes instead of the costly “shotgun” approach that gives incentives for over-prescribing unnecessary test or procedures
- Improve availability of generic prescription drugs by ending “pay-for-delay” agreements between Brand Name and Generic drug manufactures
- Revise current law which denies Medicare the ability to use its bargaining power and negotiate better prices with the prescription drug companies
Furthermore, I commit to creating an Eastern Washington Health Care Advisory Council during the course of the campaign. They will explore reasonable health care reforms which can be introduced into the House with bipartisan support immediately upon taking office, with special focus on the needs of Eastern Washington.