We Need To Improve The Health Care System - Not Break It

Health care is very personal for me. My dad was very sick last year, and he was fortunate to have access to life-saving treatment, paid for by Medicare. We sat by his bedside in Indianapolis for nearly a month while he was in a coma. But we didn’t have to worry about our family going bankrupt to pay for his care, because Medicare was there for him. And I didn’t have to worry about losing my job, because I was able to take paid family and medical leave.

In the United States of America, in 2017, not a single person should suffer or die because he or she cannot afford essential health care.  And no one should go bankrupt or lose a home because they can't pay their medical bills.  To say otherwise is cruel, selfish, and un-American.  We take care of our own.

We need to move forward, not back, in the battle to expand access to affordable, quality health care.  A solid majority of the American people believe that the federal government should insure, and ensure, universal health care coverage.  That is why I support the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act of 2017, H.R. 676.  It is the only proposal on the table that will accomplish the three essential goals of universal coverage, quality care, and affordability.  

Don't let anyone tell you this can't happen.  It is a proposal that will bring down the cost of care, make our communities and families more secure, and make us more competitive with countries that spend much less money and get better care.  In a Medicare for All program, no one will have to pay $700 for an EpiPen.  Drug companies won't be able to get away with price-gouging any more, because the Medicare program can negotiate with drug companies and bring down these outrageous costs.  Americans and Hoosiers deserve nothing less.  

And don't let anyone tell you this isn't realistic.  We can win the war for universal coverage and also fight and win the battles along the way that get us there.  It’s why I will stand with senators from both parties, like Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander, to stabilize the healthcare market and defend the Affordable Care Act.  We need to move forward, not back, and that's why this bipartisan deal is essential.

Medicare isn't perfect.  I recently spoke with a man who told me about having to pay thousands of dollars per month for his wife's life-threatening chronic condition that Medicare will not fully cover.  No one should go bankrupt paying hospital bills.  We can reform Medicare to bring down the cost of care, while expanding coverage to every American. 

Defending The Affordable Care Act

I am appalled that some members of Congress want to take away health care and nursing home care from 22 million people, including 270,000 Hoosiers. In Indiana, 4700 veterans would lose Medicaid coverage if the ACA is repealed. Repealing the ACA would drive up health care costs with higher premiums, deductibles, and a higher cost for prescription drugs. Not only that, it will increase the number of uninsured, and it will be a job-killer for those working in the health care industry. According to one analysis, more than 18,000 jobs in Indiana will be lost if the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act succeeds. Repeal would be especially devastating for rural hospitals in our district.

Republicans have been saying they want to repeal the Affordable Care Act for over seven years, but they still have no plan to replace it.  They will make health insurance unaffordable just so the wealthiest Americans can get massive tax breaks they do not need.  Republicans want to take over $1 trillion over the next 10 years out of the health system and give it to the rich in tax cuts.  If they do that, quality coverage will be unaffordable, and states and local governments will have to take on more of the cost of care, especially emergency care. 

They also want to repeal the Medicaid expansion, even though it is the single most important source of funding we have to fight the opioid epidemic that is ravaging southern Indiana.

I don’t accept that, and you shouldn’t either. 

We all want the freedom to take care of our families and that starts with having affordable health care, and being able to take time off from work to care for our family members when they are sick. I want that for my family, and I want it for yours. We want our children to grow up healthy and we want their grandparents to be able to be an active part of their lives.

Indiana opted to expand Medicaid under a Republican governor, and adopted the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP 2.0). Indiana’s plan has resulted in hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers getting health care coverage who did not have it before. Because of HIP 2.0, people who have never had coverage before, can go to the doctor for the first time. People with longtime illnesses have finally gotten treatment. The Republicans’ repeal bill would take all of that away.

We need to protect and strengthen the health care system we have – not break it.  As Senator Donnelly has said, “If your house needs repairs, you don’t set the house on fire. You work to fix the issues.”  That’s exactly what we need to do.  I will join with everyone in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, who wants to work together to make affordable health care available to all Americans. It’s time to stop playing games with people’s lives and get to work bringing down health care costs, and finding ways to provide affordable coverage to more Americans.

It’s no wonder that less than 20 percent of Americans approve of the Republicans repeal bill. Just look what will happen if it passes:

  • The cost of your prescription drugs and co-pays may increase.

  • If you have a preexisting condition like cancer you could lose coverage.

  • If you are a senior your coverage could become unaffordable.

  • If you are a woman, you could lose critical coverage, including prenatal and maternity care.

  • Overall, 22 million people would lose their health insurance in the next ten years if the Senate bill becomes law, including 15 million fewer losing Medicaid coverage.

  • The Senate bill is estimated to lead to the loss of health insurance coverage for 270,400 Hoosiers by 2026. This includes a loss of Medicaid coverage for 210,200 and a loss of coverage in the individual marketplace for 60,500.

  • For the many Hoosiers with opioid abuse disorder and mental health disorder who have obtained coverage through the Medicaid expansion or the individual marketplace, the Senate bill would put their coverage at serious risk.

  • School services for children with disabilities may be unavailable due to federal Medicaid cuts.

  • According to one analysis, 18,111 jobs in Indiana will be lost if the effort to repeal the ACA succeeds.

Protecting Women's Health

Planned Parenthood is one of America’s leading providers of high-quality, affordable heath care for both women and men. Last year alone, it provided birth control, vaccinations, lifesaving screening for cancer and HIV, testing and treatment for STDs, miscarriage management, and other vital care to 2.5 million patients across the nation – including more than fifty thousand Hoosiers at twenty-three health centers in Indiana. These services save lives.

Sixty percent of Planned Parenthood patients access care through Medicaid or other federal assistance programs. If Congress blocks Medicaid patients from seeking care at Planned Parenthood health centers, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that more than a million women will struggle to access preventive healthcare. We can’t let that happen. Another 48.5 million women across America benefit from the Affordable Care Act, which supports their access to breast exams, annual checkups, and cancer screenings. When we fight for the ACA, we fight for them.

That’s why I support Planned Parenthood. It’s why I will oppose any effort to defund it, which would take lifesaving healthcare away from women in our district and across America. Together we can make sure that every woman, in southern Indiana and across America, has access to the care that she needs.