All Americans should have access to affordable, quality health care and Congress needs to be doing much more to make access a reality.
During my time as an Assistant United States Attorney, it was abundantly clear to me that quality schools, jobs that provide upward mobility, and good health care are the necessary foundation for safe and thriving communities. This is why I went to work at AmeriHealth Caritas, where I helped expand Medicaid and Medicare services in Pennsylvania to thousands of underserved residents.
Unfortunately, Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress see things very differently. Rather than helping more Americans afford health care, they are putting their own partisan agenda ahead of what is best for our country by doing everything possible to gut the Affordable Care Act.
We cannot permit them to roll back protections for pre-existing conditions, allow insurance companies to charge those near retirement five times more than others, and strip away coverage from millions of Americans.
As we examine the potential for long-term changes, such as a move toward a single-payer system, my top priority will be to protect the Affordable Care Act from these attacks and work to strengthen it. That begins by ensuring the implementation and protection of the individual mandate, the feature by which costs can be kept manageable for those most in need of health care services, including the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. We must shore up insurance exchanges and stop the political game of reducing cost-sharing. We also need to stop the Trump administration from allowing insurance companies to sell “junk policies.”
More than 2.8 million Pennsylvanians are enrolled in our state’s Medicaid expansion as of June 2016. Medicaid expansion’s statewide implementation helped to drop the uninsured rate in Pennsylvania from 9.7% in 2013 to 6.4% in 2015. Governor Wolf further increased enrollment by raising the eligibility requirements from 50 percent, instituted by ex-Governor Corbett, to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. I support this measure and would support similar bills on a national level.
In order to bring down costs, Medicare should be allowed to negotiate prescription drug prices just like the Veteran’s Administration can. Additionally, people aged 55-64 who are priced out of the private insurance market should be allowed to buy into Medicare.
Health care services should not be limited to insurance solutions. We have pressing national health crises, including a rampant opioid epidemic and high obesity rates. We should strive for holistic solutions to these problems by providing greater access to non-traditional medical services and counseling. We need to continue to empower consumers by requiring clear point-of-purchase nutritional information from food providers. We need to increase access to physical activity—through our schools, recreation departments, and communities.
And we should encourage greater community engagement, an essential component of well-being for successful, late-life aging. Such expansive thinking and doing was what I was most proud of at AmeriHealth Caritas, and we need to do it more broadly for all of us and our unique health care needs.
These are issues I care passionately about and are chief motivators in my decision to run for Congress. I will fight to help my fellow citizens realize their healthiest lives.