LIZ'S PLAN TO STRENGTHEN HEALTH CARE

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 Medicare for All Act of 2017.  It is the only proposal on the table that will accomplish the three essential goals of universal coverage, quality care, and affordability.  This legislation would gradually expand eligibility for Medicare and allow people to buy into the system during the transition to universal coverage. 

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.  That is why I also support the bipartisan effort of Senators Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander to stabilize the health care market while we fight for meaningful reform.  It's clear that "Repeal and Replace" was all hat and no cattle.  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. 

STATEMENT SUPPORTING MEDICAL CANNABIS

There is now a medical consensus that cannabis and its derivatives offer safe and effective relief to patients suffering from an array of conditions and symptoms, including chronic pain, AIDS, epilepsy and other serious degenerative conditions, muscle spasms, nausea and vomiting, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Unfortunately, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act and is thus subject to the strictest regulation and incurs the most severe penalties for possession and distribution. Its Schedule I status complicates large-scale scientific studies of medical marijuana.

I have no interest in withholding medical cannabis from patients who have determined in consultation with their doctors that it is a suitable treatment option under medical supervision. In this opinion, I am hardly an outlier, as recent national polls consistently show that over 80% of Americans support legal medical marijuana. This overwhelming public support is reflected in the fact that now 30 states and District of Columbia (although so far not Indiana) have chosen—through ballot initiative or legislative action—to give their residents access to medical cannabis in some form, including CBD oils, which have proved effective in combating the opioid addiction crisis.

I support these states’ right to determine their own policies regarding medical marijuana. However, the continued disparities between cannabis’s legal status in these states and its prohibition at the federal level leaves otherwise law-abiding patients and doctors vulnerable to potential arrest and prosecution. I strongly oppose using taxpayer dollars to disrupt the lives of sick people who are using medical marijuana  to improve the quality of their lives. 

I also support measures at the federal level like the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment (previously the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment). First passed in 2014, and most recently renewed on September 8, 2017 as part of the emergency hurricane relief and continuing budget resolution, this amendment ensures that states can continue to move forward with legalizing medical marijuana without interference from the Department of Justice. As indicated by its bipartisan sponsors and support —67 Republicans and 175 Democrats voted for it in 2015—there is widespread agreement that  states should be allowed to set their sensible and responsible decisions on medical cannabis. 

I also support other legislation currently pending in Congress that aims to make the exemption granted by the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment more robust and permanent. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act of 2015 counts among its 43 co-sponsors both some of the most progressive and conservative members of Congress. It would not only protect law-abiding citizens in states that have legalized medical marijuana, it also transfers marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act. This is a critical first step forward for medical marijuana because it would allow researchers to submit cannabis to the kind of extensive and careful study that Americans expect of all forms of medical treatments. Allowing medical marijuana will save Hoosier lives, as well as helping to mitigate the horrors of the opioid crisis currently afflicting far too many Hoosiers. 

There exists little if any scientific basis to justify the federal government’s continued prohibition of cannabis, but there is ample scientific and empirical evidence to rebut it. In fact, the overwhelming majority of scientific research directly conflicts with the federal government’s stance that cannabis is a highly dangerous substance that warrants absolute criminalization. I support changes these changes in federal law so that states, including Indiana, can better tailor their policies to protect the rights of patients and meet their legitimate need for safe and effective treatments for debilitating pain and physical and mental conditions, including by enacting measures that permit the use of medical cannabis.