Health Care

Healthcare is a real issue that millions of Americans struggle with every day. Access, cost and quality of care are problems faced by everyone. Put simply, healthcare is more than health insurance.

Families I’ve talked to struggle with premiums, with deciding whether they can afford to get checked, or get a sick child checked.  They struggle with massive medical bills after emergency procedures. This is a struggle with fear – fear of losing a loved one, but also the fear of an economic wasteland if they do what they know they should.  What they know would be in their best interest if only the costs and the uncertainties weren’t so overwhelming.

Fear of a bad medical outcome is always always present when dealing with a health problem.  The fear of personal economic collapse should not be added on to that.

The rising costs of healthcare threaten the secure retirement of many. A study released recently by the Kaiser Family Foundation predicts that by 2030 Medicare beneficiaries will pay half of their average Social Security income towards health care.  Here in Colorado, 23% of people 65 and older rely on Social Security for at least 90% of their income. How are these people to survive if half of that money goes towards healthcare? How will they pay for housing, food, and utilities?

Some argue that the current system is required to develop the life-saving treatments on which the rest of the world relies. These advances are small comfort to the Americans that have extreme difficulty covering the most basic medical and dental treatments. Cutting edge research is necessary but it cannot come at the expense of day to day medical care for all Americans.

We must make a firm commitment to do all we can to make health care accessible, meaningful and available to everyone. This means more than just health insurance. “Healthcare” is more than health insurance.

In order to help address out of pocket costs, we must:

  • Require medical service providers to make public costs of non-emergency care.
  • Prosecute pharmaceutical price gougers
  • Include dental care as an essential health benefit in health care coverage, and provide dental coverage in Medicare services
  • Accelerate Medicare and Medicaid approval of new forms of treatment
  • Allow those communities that are unserved or underserved by private insurance to buy-in to Medicare as a public option.
  • Require each of NIH, CMS and CBO to provide within two years, cost reports of merging Medicaid into Medicare and removing the age limit for Medicare.
  • Allow Secretary of HHS to negotiate drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries
  • Restore the Cost-Sharing Reductions eliminated by President Trump, and make those payments compulsory to keep the cost of premiums down
  • Renew reinsurance to the ACA to help keep the cost of premiums down
  • Restore the individual mandate

Many families have expressed frustration with the density and lack of clarity of insurance forms.  Customers have a hard time making apples to apples comparisons, and remain unclear when they are entitled to appeal a health insurance denial.  Customers are also frustrated with denials for services which they are entitled to, but where insurance companies have an economic incentive to deny many, on the calculation that only a few beneficiaries will appeal. 

To restore equity in insurance, we need to:

  • Require use of easy to understand, plain english, common forms setting out coverages provided by health insurance providers
  • Require easy to understand, plain english explanations of appeals process
  • Require transparent appeals process
  • Penalize inappropriate denials of care

Our armed services members undergo extreme stressors when serving overseas in active combat areas.  Neither the armed services, nor the VA, receives adequate funding to support our vets in reacclimating into regular civilian life – a transition that is not easy after serving under fire for extended periods.  If cannabinoids assist our vets with reacclimation, we must not close our eyes to basic science due to partisan politics.

In order to help our vets, we must:

  • Fund transition and re-acclimation support upon completion of enlistment to ease transition back into civilian life for all armed services members who have served two tours or more in active combat locations
  • Lift marijuana from classification as a Schedule 1 drug.
  • Remove banking restrictions on licensed marijuana businesses.
  • Remove sole provider restriction for federally funded marijuana research.

We must take a close look at our healthcare system and ask ourselves why women and people of color are less likely to have a positive outcome than white men with the same conditions. Part of this comes from medical facilities in low income areas struggling with costs, but part of this comes from prior research being conducted only on white men. We know that women’s bodies are different from men’s.  We know that medical conditions can present differently in different populations based on ethnicity.

Anyone walking into a hospital should have an equally good chance at getting a good outcome walking out.

This is true regardless of gender, of race or zip code.  Low income areas, whether rural or urban, should not face heightened health challenges in their medical treatment facilities.

In order to make sure that anyone walking into a hospital has an equally good chance of a good outcome walking out, we must:

  • Invest in basic research:
    • in women’s cardiac care, mental health and diabetic care.
    • in health care gaps between white and non-white populations, such as triple-negative breast cancer.
    • Require that any application for FDA approval for a new drug or new device include disaggregated data to indicate efficacy across populations, including by gender and by race.
    • Require that basic research at the cellular level
      • use animals from both sexes and identified as such for disaggregation of results; and
      • disaggregate data and results across race and gender lines to identify problems prior to in-human clinical trials.
  • Reduce barriers to access to quality health care by:
    • Rerouting money from a border wall, to build eleven new medical schools, nursing schools and teaching hospitals in underserved areas
    • Investing in hospitals in our underserved communities
    • Augmenting Federal funding for interpreter services in hospitals based upon local communities’ home language use
    • Improving Medicaid payment timeliness and amounts
  • Remove the stigma associated with mental health care and provide appropriate support by:
    • Permitting right of private action against insurance providers that do not implement mental health parity provisions in ACA.
    • Federal funding for staff training in psychiatric institutions – training to focus on non-physical intervention and conflict de-escalation.  Direct HHS to develop a curriculum for states to certify trainers.
    • Require mental health providers to make public data on the use of seclusion and restraints, including amount used, as well as injuries and deaths related thereto.
    • Increase federal funding to support psychiatric supports in public schools so teachers can spend more time teaching

Many family members of people with disabilities feel frustration at the approach to disability in our community.  It’s not so much the President mocking disability publicly, but the day-to-day assumption of disability as inability.  We need to do more to include all populations in our communities – and particularly in an individual’s ability to make their own health care decisions.  

To empower ourselves and our neighbors, we need to:

  • Eliminate from federal law, as it applies to home health care workers, requirements for electronic visit verification, GPS monitoring and video monitoring.  Our communities should not have to have government watching the insides of their homes in order to receive services.
  • Augment the Disability Integration Act to support our neighbors with disabilities to stay in the communities they know as home.
  • Federal support for consumer-directed initiatives such as Colorado’s own CDASS (Consumer-Driven Attendant Support Services), which has been very helpful to our local communities.

Partisan politics too frequently interferes with sound science or sound policy.  Restricting research due to political bias is bad for science and bad for our communities.  With rising gun deaths affecting our communities, including many families right here in CD 6, it makes no sense to prohibit federal funding to examine public health effects of gun policy.

Many top public health researchers at the Centers for Disease Control are prohibited from researching gun violence by the Dickey Amendment.  In order to promote sound policy on guns in our society, we must unshackle our researchers and let them go where the science leads them.

In order to keep our communities safe, we must

  • Eliminate the Dickey Amendment, and let science trump politics instead of the other way around.


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