First and foremost, lawmakers should re-authorize C.H.I.P, which provides healthcare to almost 6 million children.
I believe we should pursue a Healthcare for All Strategy, through an expanded single payer Medicare System.
If that cannot be accomplished immediately or if it must be phased in, I would propose that we stabilize the Affordable Healthcare Act. There are a lot of good things about the Affordable Care Act—coverage for young adult children, coverage for pre-existing conditions and no lifetime caps on coverage, to name a few. Unfortunately, several insurers have left the market, making it sometimes difficult to find a doctor covered by a plan in rural areas and the coverage has gotten more expensive. There are things that can be done to improve the existing system, rather than repeal it all together and go back to a system where many people have no coverage or are stuck in a job they hate because they have had cancer and won’t be covered if they want to start a business.
- The federal government could aggressively market and advertise to get younger, healthier people to buy health plans on the marketplaces. This has worked well in California.
- Congress could approve funding to low-income consumers to help offset their co-pays and deductibles. This is known as cost sharing reduction or CSR payments.
- The federal government could create a better system to protect insurers from big losses if they are hit with very costly patients. This is called a reinsurance program. This would be similar to the Medicare Part D prescription drug program and can really stabilize markets.
- The federal government will need to provide incentives to convince health insurers to offer plans in remote, rural areas.
- Consumers could be allowed to buy health plans that don’t meet standards set out in the current law but are much less expensive. These would be plans that have a payout cap. This would not be ideal, but would certainly be better than no coverage, and the cap could be increased as people were more able to pay.
- I would also support safe importation of prescription drugs to reduce the costs.
- Medicare should be expanded to cover more Texans (see below for an explanation of the coverage gap) and we should protect Medicaid programs serving vulnerable children, disabled and the elderly.
- I think we should also pursue more wellness programs designed to reduce America’s dependency on prescription drugs. Half the battle of healthcare is keeping people more healthy.
- We should negotiate drug prices and add regulations to drug companies to prevent price gouging. The U.S. is one of only two countries that allow television ads for prescription drugs. Drug companies spend 5 billion a year on ads and that is allowed as a tax-free business expense.
- People struggling with mental health issues and addiction (including our Veterans) need better access to healthcare professionals and treatment facilities.Here is a great link that explains why there is a coverage gap in Texas. To fix this problem, call your governor and state legislators.