No one should ever have to choose between seeing a doctor and paying next month’s rent. As Jesse travels our District, she hears over and over again the stories of families who have confronted this real choice – and she can see the pain and fear in their faces.
While she is touched by their willingness to share personal struggles, she’s angry and deeply frustrated by the physical, mental, and economic toll that health care costs have taken on so many people throughout the district. Make no mistake, we have excellent hospitals and talented medical professionals in our area. But even though Massachusetts has near universal health insurance coverage, not everyone can access care and costs continue to go up, with the majority of this growth driven by prescription drug prices. Not surprisingly, people with low to moderate incomes are more likely to experience health care affordability issues.
Bottom line: our health care system isn’t working for too many people and it certainly isn’t working for those who need it most.
Here’s Jesse’s vision to reform our health care system:
- Medicare for All. Jesse believes that Medicare for All is the best pathway for tackling the persistent problems of our broken health care system. 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 drugs. It will address our system’s shortcomings around dental coverage, coverage for mental health, and coverage for long-term care. And it will greatly reduce administrative costs, which insurance companies currently pass onto patients. In Congress, Jesse will join progressive leaders and work to make Medicare for All a reality. She believes we must also ensure that in the transition to a single payer system, we ensure that workers and bargaining units that have pre-negotiated plans and benefits are taken into account and that those hard-working people are not left worse off. However, if it is not immediately politically possible to pass Medicare for All, we must make meaningful progress that will help bring down costs of care and of prescription drugs and ensure access to quality care for everyone, while continuing the long term fight for Medicare for All.
- Reduce Prescription Drug Prices. Congress must curb rising prescription drug prices, and reign in the power that drug companies wield over consumers. Jesse will support legislation, such as the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, that empowers the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients and others, and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, lowers spending by about $456 billion between 2020 and 2029. She will also seek to increase penalties on companies that raise drug prices above the rate of inflation.
- Address Social Determinants of Health. In Congress, Jesse will support initiatives that address social determinants of health, so that the places where we work, live, and play are safe and promote healthy outcomes. She will champion legislation that works to address the racial, gender and socioeconomic disparities in health care outcomes caused by systemic barriers, including the lack of access to prenatal care and disparate birth outcomes for black women and the increased rates of diabetes and hypertension in the black community. As she has explained in her plan, Championing Reproductive Rights, Jesse will always fight for reproductive health care for all who need it when sitting at the negotiating table.
- End the Opioid Epidemic. Addiction is a disease and addressing the addiction epidemic as a public health crisis in Massachusetts, and nationally, is a top priority of Jesse’s. We need to get serious about providing funding for beds for those in need of immediate treatment and long-term care and crack down on pharmaceutical companies who sowed the seeds of this crisis while prioritizing their bottom line over the millions of lives that are affected. We also need to address insurers who are unwilling to pay for those struggling with this disease to find the care that they desperately need. We must prioritize and destigmatize mental health treatment and treat it as a critical part of healthcare access. We must increase funding for Medication Assisted Treatment programs and expand access to Naloxone for first responders and the general public.
- Mental Health. We need to destigmatize mental health and treat it as a necessary part of health care coverage by strengthening community crisis response systems and promoting early intervention. We must encourage the integration of mental and physical health care.
- Improving Health Outcomes for the LGBTQ+ Community. We need to address the discrimination in our health care systems that creates disparities in health outcomes for our LGBTQ community.