I grew up for a portion of my childhood without health insurance. I still remember the box of bills that sat on our kitchen table when my little sister had a medical issue. I also spent more than 20 years working in two healthcare manufacturing companies and ran the health plan for a major U.S. company.
Improvements in our healthcare laws over the past few years have eliminated the penalty for pre-existing conditions, ended lifetime limits, allowed young adults to remain on their parent’s insurance and given tens of millions of Americans access to healthcare who didn’t have it before. But today’s healthcare in the U.S. is far from perfect. Many working people in Minnesota can’t access or afford quality care. Many others have to deal with the consequences and agonizing choices that come with rising premiums, out of control prescription drug costs and huge health care bills.
My top priority in Congress has been to increase access to and reduce the cost of healthcare for all Americans. I’ve held healthcare listening sessions all over the Second District to better understand what changes you need in the system. I’ve introduced or co-sponsored dozens of healthcare-related bills. As co-chair of the New Democrat Coalition Healthcare Task Force, I’ve led the effort to improve our healthcare system by:
Reducing the price of prescription drugs.
I co-sponsored and successfully passed a bill that will allow Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies — so Big Pharma cannot continue to profit off the backs of Minnesota families. It would also cap out-of-pocket costs for seniors and invest in research for more effective treatments.
Making healthcare more affordable.
I’ve co-sponsored a bill that would increase competition in the individual marketplace for Minnesota families by establishing a public option health plan to compete with large insurance companies. This would stabilize healthcare costs for our families who have little choice in their region. I’ve also introduced my own bill that would lower the cost of health insurance in the individual market.
Holding Big Pharma accountable.
I’ve introduced legislation which would increase competition for more affordable generic drugs and co-sponsored a bill which would create emergency insulin supplies and hold big drug companies accountable for jacking up prices.
Affordable, accessible healthcare doesn’t just mean doctors and drugs: we also have work to do to expand mental health services and to solve the vaping and opioid epidemics devastating our communities.
I’ve worked on legislation that would increase access to mental health services by funding new mental health clinics and expanding telehealth services, especially for rural areas, and co-sponsored numerous bills to hold the vaping industry accountable and curb the vaping epidemic.
Like so many of you, the opioid epidemic is personal to me. Hardly anyone anymore doesn’t have a family member or close friend touched by substance abuse disorder. I will continue to fight to stop this epidemic.
The Second Congressional District is home to some exceptional local leaders in this fight. The Shakopee Police Department and the Scott County Board have rolled out programs that focus on rehabilitation and recovery rather than punishment and incarceration. Whether it’s a new drug court program, treatment center, lifesaving medication for first responders or critical new research, all these efforts have something in common: they require resources and funding.