More than 400,000 Virginians rely on the individual marketplace for health insurance, yet in our area there is often only one health insurance provider. That means when premiums go up, there are no other options. I am supporting Senator Tim Kaine’s plan “Medicare X” to give people a new, public buy-in option which has the potential to lower prices and premiums by up to 30%. Under “Medicare X”, people who are happy with their current insurance can keep it, but others can buy a public health insurance plan that is similar to Medicare but covers more things like maternity and pediatric care. While expanding Medicare, we need to protect Medicaid and other programs for seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income families. I fight for these programs because I believe every American should have access to quality, affordable healthcare no matter what their economic status is.
The V.A. has problems and we need to listen to veterans when they tell us what they need. Although providing private options in some rural areas may be part of the solution, complete privatization isn’t the answer. I want to make sure that the V.A. has the funding to serve the unique needs of our veteran population, including mental health needs. I support providing rural facilities with adequate staffing and needed technology so that veterans in those areas can access specialists hundreds of miles away. America’s veterans have put their lives on the line to protect our country and they deserve the very best healthcare when they return home.
A major factor in the increasing cost of healthcare in America is the increasing cost of prescription drugs. I support taking a balanced approach so that drug manufacturers still have the resources to develop new medications, but can’t engage in practices designed to keep prices high such as paying other companies to delay the manufacture of generic drugs. I agree with the National Academy of Sciences that Congress should allow Medicare to negotiate prices with drug manufacturers. People who depend on life-saving medications shouldn’t be held hostage by drug companies.
America has a drug problem that is devastating communities. Mass incarceration of people addicted to drugs, whether it’s opioids, heroin, or other drugs does not solve the problem. In Congress, I will create a bipartisan, top-to-bottom action plan that tackles every part of addiction to stop this crisis once and for all. The first step is to accept that addiction is a mental health issue and increase funding for programs that help treat addiction, not incarcerate the patient.
One in six American adults suffers from mental illness, yet it’s estimated that only half of those people get treatment. We need to study new methods (such as telemedicine) to get mental health services to people in rural areas. We need to recognize that mental health is just as important as physical health and make sure that Americans have access to affordable coverage for mental health services. We also need to address the mental health needs of people in the criminal justice system. There are many non-violent offenders who would benefit far more from mental health services than from prison. Helping these people heal and become productive members of our communities benefits our whole society. Some people with mental health issues turn to substance abuse, some end up sleeping on the streets, and some show no outward signs of their suffering, but all Americans deserve access to quality, affordable mental health care.
Every year, nearly four million people rely on healthcare centers funded by Title X. These centers provide basic healthcare services like cancer screenings, birth control, pregnancy tests, and gynecological exams. Most of these patients are low-income, and one dollar spent on Title X funding saves taxpayers more than seven dollars in Medicaid-related costs. Now President Trump wants to implement a “gag rule” that would prohibit healthcare providers from receiving Title X funding if the providers offer abortions, abortion-related counseling, or referrals for patients seeking abortions. I do not believe the government should interfere in decisions made between a woman and her doctor, and these healthcare providers should not be punished for providing complete and accurate information to their patients. I do not support taking money away from health centers that serve millions of Americans.