Carolyn on Healthcare
Healthcare is an acute crisis. We need affordable, quality healthcare for all. Our healthcare system costs significantly more per capita than any other country in the developed world—and the destruction of the Affordable Care Act has real consequences for our community. Reforming our healthcare system is a pocketbook issue, a moral issue, and an issue of democratic accountability.
My own family struggles with the cost of healthcare. My mother cared for my aging and very sick father until both recently passed. She couldn't come visit us in Suwanee because all of her discretionary income was eaten up paying for medications, including ones to treat my father’s diabetes. Between 2002 and 2013, the price of insulin has tripled, and in 2017 it continued to rise. Where my parents used to hit their yearly cap for drug insurance in November, in 2017 they reached it in July.
Why is the cost increasing? One reason is that Congress has prevented Medicare from using its purchasing power to negotiate a better deal on drug prices. And why have they done this? Because pharmaceutical companies give lots and lots of money to politicians. In 2016, these companies gave $60 million to representatives in Congress.
The decision-making around health insurance and the Affordable Care Act is also incomprehensible to me. Congressman Woodall, the incumbent in the 7th District, voted for a bill that would mean 67,000 fewer people in this district would have health insurance. The bill discriminates against those with pre-existing conditions and would allow insurance companies to avoid covering basic services like mental health, emergency and maternity care.
I talked with doctors who cared for a Gwinnett man who had worked as a laborer moving boxes. Because Medicaid wasn't expanded, he didn’t have health insurance. He was suffering from pain in his joints but it was only after the pain became so bad that he had lost the use of his hands that he went to see a doctor—and learned he had rheumatoid arthritis. That’s a treatable disease, if caught early. But he had fallen through the cracks of our system and will remain in pain and on disability for the rest of his life.
Let’s be compassionate and fiscally responsible. Let’s expand Medicaid and bring $2.2 billion back to our state every year—keeping more people working and bringing down the financial and human costs of late stage health care. Let’s put a public option on the marketplace and bring down premiums by increasing competition.