Healthcare and the Affordable Care Act
Healthcare in America needs to be accessible and affordable for everybody. When the Supreme Court affirmed the President's health care insurance reform initiative (the Affordable Care Act) in June 2012, it reminded us that the powerful health services industry does not control the administration of health care. That control rests firmly in the hands of doctors and patients. The ACA is not perfect, but it's a good start. [Read my full statement on the Court's decision here.]
The ACA contains some real benefits for San Diegans. For example, it prevents insurance companies from denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition. It also lets adult children stay on their parent’s health care plan until they’re 26 – a change that helps a lot of families with kids in college or who are starting out in their first job. These are the kind of improvements that we would lose if we heeded the mistaken calls just to “repeal Obamacare.”
But the reality is that too many families in San Diego struggle to get affordable, quality healthcare. And the high cost of insurance premiums is holding American businesses back. So we must continue the work to lower healthcare costs while preserving choice and quality care. We should build on the reforms set forth by the ACA and improve them – particularly when it comes to making healthcare more affordable for the middle-class, containing skyrocketing costs, and making sure hospitals are adequately reimbursed for the services they provide.
Some of the reforms I’d like to see include:
- Modernizing the system to lower costs. We should continue to modernize information technology to reduce medical errors, bureaucratic red tape, and burdensome duplication. This will help not only to save millions of dollars but also will save lives.
- Lowering prescription drug costs through Medicare. We can significantly lower the cost of prescription drugs for seniors by allowing Medicare to use its negotiating and purchasing power to get a better deal – just like any insurance plan does, like the Veterans Administration does, and the way other countries, like Canada, do.
- Ensuring that hospitals who care for a disproportionate share of uninsured patients are adequately reimbursed.
- Examining a “no fee for service” model of healthcare that emphasizes prevention over treatment. Preventing disease is far more cost effective than treating it, but because of the high cost of medicine today and the lack of access to services, too many Americans are waiting to see a doctor until it’s too late for prevention. The resulting costs at the emergency room or in the operating room, costs that might have been avoided, are ultimately borne by the rest of us in the form of higher insurance premiums. We need incentives for patients and doctors to promote overall health and disease prevention.
I will be an active and strong advocate for healthcare reform – for patients, for our local hospitals, and for medical professionals. I know from my work at the City Council and at the Port, and from my supporters who represent working families, how vital reliable and affordable healthcare is. I also recently met with hospital and medical leaders, who are equally frustrated at a system full of irrationalities and the wrong economic and health incentives. Everyone is eager to help find solutions to our ailing healthcare system, and they are equally eager for a representative who hears their concerns, understands the issues, and works to make sure doctors, patients, and healthcare institutions all have a say in how we address this national problem. That’s always been my problem-solving approach, and that’s the approach I will take as your representative in Congress.
Contraception and Reproductive Choice
Unbelievably, we appear to be fighting battles over reproductive choice and access to contraception. Those wars were fought and won 30-40 years ago. I strongly favor reproductive freedom and a woman’s right to choose. My wife and I have a long history of supporting Planned Parenthood. Brian Bilbray voted to defund the agency; that is out of step with this district and the majority of Americans.
It is embarrassing and shameful that when so many families are hurting or are facing uncertainty about their jobs, children’s education, parents’ long-term care – when there are so many pressing issues for our nation and Congress – we are having a national discussion about who should have access to contraception.
When I go to Congress I will vehemently protect women’s access to contraception and a woman’s right to choose.