No one should ever have to choose between seeing a doctor and paying next month’s rent.
As Jesse travels our District (virtually and safely in person), she repeatedly hears stories of families confronting this unacceptable choice. She sees the pain and fear in their faces. These tales of personal struggle drive Jesse. She’s angry and frustrated with the physical, mental, and economic toll health care costs take from so many people.
Massachusetts has excellent hospitals and talented medical professionals. We are a global hub of innovation saving lives every day. Yet even as Massachusetts has near universal health insurance coverage, not everyone can access care and costs continue going up, with much of this growth driven by out-of-control prescription drug prices and sky-high patient cost sharing in the form of deductibles, cost-sharing and co-payments—including surprise medical bills. Not surprisingly, people with low to moderate incomes are the hardest hit.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the inequities and failures of our institutions and the Trump Administration’s clear disregard for science and human life have been on full display. We need comprehensive recovery – a plan that prioritizes communities hit hardest, including communities of color, individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, and seniors.
We also must address our long-term health care crisis and end the public health crises of gun violence and racism, which includes investing our funding and energy in preventative approaches to health care and building a health care system better prepared for future pandemics or public health crises.
Bottom line: our health care system is failing too many people and it isn’t working for many who need it most.
Here’s Jesse’s vision to reform our health care system:
- Pass Medicare for All. Jesse believes that Medicare for All is the best solution to fix our broken health care system. She will join the Congressional Single Payer Caucus on day one. As the Coronavirus pandemic brings the deep flaws of our current system into sharper focus, millions of Americans are losing their health care because they lost their jobs. Medicare for All will guarantee that everyone has access to high quality, affordable health care. It will empower the federal government to negotiate for cheaper prescription drug prices. It will address gaps in dental coverage, mental health care, and long-term care services and supports. It will reduce administrative costs that insurance companies pass onto patients. We no longer can afford not to have Medicare for All. In Congress, Jesse will join progressive leaders to make Medicare for All a reality. She knows that, as we transition to a single payer plan, we must ensure that workers and bargaining units with pre-negotiated plans and benefits are taken into account and that no one is left worse off. If Medicare for All can’t pass in the immediate future due to the political realities, Jesse is committed to meaningful change. She will fight every day in Congress to bring down costs of care and prescription drugs and ensure access to quality care for everyone, while continuing to fight for Medicare for All as the long-term solution.
- Reduce Prescription Drug Prices. Congress must curb rising prescription drug prices and reduce drug companies’ power over consumers. Jesse will fight so that Big Pharma doesn’t profit from this pandemic after taxpayers have spent billions to find treatments and vaccines. Congress must ensure that Big Pharma can’t restrict access to a vaccine or treatment to those who can afford it and block drug corporation monopolies from continuing to drive up the cost of health care. Jesse supports legislation, such as the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act to empower the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate drug prices for Medicare recipients and others. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this will lower spending by $456 billion over eight years. She will fight to increase penalties on companies that raise drug prices above inflation.
- Address Social Determinants of Health. Jesse knows that despite the best doctors in the world, if you live in unsafe or unhealthy conditions or live with trauma impacts, you can’t be healthy. She supports initiatives to address social determinants of health, so that places where we work, live, and play are safe and health promoting. She will champion legislation to address racial, gender and socioeconomic disparities in health outcomes caused by barriers such as lack of prenatal care access and disparate birth outcomes for Black women, as well as increased rates of diabetes and hypertension in the Black community. In her plan, Championing Reproductive Rights, Jesse shows how she will fight for reproductive health care for all who need it. She also supports expanding access to preventative health care and telehealth services to create more proactive treatment plans that center the needs of patients.
- End the Opioid Epidemic. Addiction is a disease and a public health crisis in Massachusetts and across the nation. It is a top priority for Jesse. We must fund beds for those needing immediate treatment and long-term care while cracking down on drug companies that started this crisis while pursuing the bottom line over human lives. We must address insurers who won’t pay for those struggling to find care they desperately need. We must increase funding for Medication Assisted Treatment and expand access to safe consumption sites while ensuring Naloxone for first responders and the public.
- Treat Mental Health as Critical Care. We must destigmatize mental health and treat it as essential health coverage by strengthening community crisis response systems and promoting early intervention. We must encourage integration of mental and physical health care, and pass Medicare for All to ensure that access is covered for all of us.
- Improve Health Outcomes for the LGBTQ+ Community. We need to address discrimination in our health care systems that creates disparities in health outcomes for our LGBTQ community. The Trump Administration has reversed rules created under the Affordable Care Act to protect the LGBTQ+ Community from health care discriminatory treatment—we must reinstate those protections as a priority. Jesse will work to overturn the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) recent rule that allows for dangerous discrimination against the trans community, among others, in health care services.
- Ensure every child has access to quality health care. We need to invest in children’s health, which includes expanding access to health care for all children, mental health services and nurses in schools. You can read more about Jesse’s plan to invest in education here.