Universal Health Care
Americans need a health care system that works for patients and providers. We need to focus our federal investments on training the health care providers. We need to ensure a strong health care workforce in all communities now and in the future. We need to build on the strength of the 50 years of success of the Medicare program. We need a health care system that significantly reduces overhead, administrative costs and complexity. We need a system where all people can get the care they need to maintain and improve their health when they need it regardless of income, age or socioeconomic status. We need a system that works not just for millionaires and billionaires, but for all of us. I believe that health care is a right, not a privilege, and our health care system should put people before profits. Americans should be able to access public coverage through a public option, and those over 55 should be able to opt in to Medicare.
Community Health Centers
We must renew and expand our commitment to Community Health Centers, as well as community mental health centers and family planning centers. These health centers provide critically important, community- based prevention and treatment in underserved communities, prevent unnecessary and expensive trips to emergency rooms, and are essential to the successful implementation of the ACA. We will fight for a comprehensive system of primary health care, including dental, mental health care, and low-cost prescription drugs by doubling of funding for federally qualified community health centers over the next decade, which currently serve 25 million people.
Prescription Drug Costs
It is unacceptable that the United States pays, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs and that too many Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 cannot afford to fill their prescriptions. A lifesaving drug is no good if it is unaffordable to the very people who need it most. And many drug companies are spending more on advertising than on research. The largest pharmaceutical companies are making billions of dollars per year in profits at higher margins compared to other industries while many stash their profits in offshore tax havens. Meanwhile, they charge Americans thousands of dollars for new drugs—often at much higher costs than in other developed nations. I'm committed to investing in the research, development, and innovation that creates lifesaving drugs and lowers overall health costs, but the profiteering of pharmaceutical companies is simply unacceptable.
- Crack down on price gouging by drug companies
- Cap the amount Americans have to pay out- of-pocket every month on prescription drugs
- Prohibit anti-competitive “pay for delay” deals that keep generic drugs off the market, and allow individuals, pharmacists, and wholesalers to import prescription drugs from licensed pharmacies in Canada and other countries with appropriate safety protections.
I believe we must accelerate the pace of medical progress, ensuring that we invest more in our scientists and give them the resources they need to invigorate our fundamental studies in the life sciences in a growing, stable, and predictable way. We must make progress against the full range of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, HIV and AIDS, cancer, and other diseases, especially chronic ones. We need recognize the critical importance of a fully-funded National Institutes of Health to accelerate the pace of medical progress.
Drug and Alcohol Addiction
We must confront the epidemic of drug and alcohol addiction, specifically the opioid crisis and other drugs plaguing our communities, by vastly expanding access to prevention and treatment, supporting recovery, helping community organizations, and promoting better practices by prescribers. The Democratic Party is committed to assisting the estimated 20 million people struggling with addiction in this country to find and sustain healthy lives by encouraging full recovery and integration into society and working to remove common barriers to gainful employment, housing, and education. We will continue to fight to expand access to care for addiction services, and ensure that insurance coverage is equal to that for any other health conditions. We think it is time for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor, and state regulatory agencies to fully implement the protections of the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act of 2008—which means that American medical insurers, including
the federal government, will need to disclose how they make their medical management decisions. We should also do more to educate our youth, as well as their families, teachers, coaches, mentors, and friends, to intervene early to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. We should help state and local leaders establish evidence-based, age-appropriate, and locally-tailored prevention programs. These programs include school-based drug education programs that have been shown to have meaningful effects on risky behavior; community-based peer mentorship and leadership programs; and after-school activities that deter drug use and encourage life skills.
Treating Mental Health
We must treat mental health issues with the same care and seriousness that we treat issues of physical health, support a robust mental health workforce, and promote better integration of the behavioral and general health care systems. Recognizing that maintaining good mental health is critical to all people, including young people’s health and development, we will work with health professionals to ensure that all children have access to mental health care.
- Expand community-based treatment for substance abuse disorders and mental health conditions and fully enforce our parity law.
- Create a national initiative around suicide prevention across the lifespan—to move toward the HHS- promoted Zero Suicide commitment.
Supporting Those Living with Autism and their Families
I believe that our country must make supporting the millions of individuals with autism and those diagnosed in the future and their families a priority.
- Conduct a nationwide early screening outreach campaign to ensure that all children, and in particular children from underserved backgrounds, can get screened for autism.
- Expand services and support for adults and individuals transitioning into adulthood, including employment and housing assistance.
- Push states to require health insurance coverage for autism services in private insurance plans as well as state marketplaces so that people with autism are not denied care.
Ensuring Long-Term Care, Services, and Supports
Our country faces a long-term care crisis that prevents too many seniors and people with disabilities from being able to live with dignity at home or in their communities. The vast majority of people who are aging or living with a disability want to do so at home, but face challenges finding and affording the support they need to do so.
- Develop programs that emphasize independence rather than institutionalization must be better structured to support them.
- Take steps to strengthen and expand the home care workforce, give seniors and people with disabilities access to quality, affordable long-term care, services, and supports, and ensure that all of these resources are readily available at home or in the community.
Protecting and Promoting Public Health
Investment in our nation’s crumbling public health infrastructure is critical to ensuring preparedness for emerging threats; for preventing disease, illness, and injury in communities; and for promoting good health and wellbeing. Inadequate access to public health services has a disparate impact on poor, rural, and minority communities where public health services are a significant source of health care. I will fight for increased investments in public health to better address emerging threats and the needs across our country.
- Ensure adequate funding of public health education at the undergraduate, graduate, and medical school levels as well as adequate funding of residency training programs in public health, preventive medicine, and its subspecialties.
- We must take a number of proactive steps so that all Americans—regardless of location, income or history—have the opportunity to live full, healthy lives. Will fight for increased investments and coordination in public health to better address emerging threats as well as persistent needs across our country. Health equity among Americans remains elusive—higher income is strongly associated with longer life expectancy and the gap in life expectancy between the richest and poorest Americans is increasing. We continue to see unacceptable differences in health outcomes by race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. A growing body of research demonstrates the link between social factors—such as poverty, unemployment, experience of discrimination, and housing instability—and poor health. Democrats will continue to pursue policies addressing these social factors and empowering communities to respond to their most pressing health needs.