There is no reason the wealthiest nation in the world should spend more on health care than any other nation yet receive second-rate results. Nor should we dismantle Medicare and Medicaid – critical programs that provide health care and economic security to seniors, persons with disabilities and the most vulnerable. Unless we control the cost of health care, we threaten our ability to finance other budget priorities, such as education and defense.
One of the health care issues I’m closely focused on in the Senate is combating the heroin and prescription drug abuse crisis that is harming communities across Virginia and the nation. From the coalfields in Southwest Virginia to the suburbs in Fairfax County, I have heard from families who have lost children to drug overdoses, law enforcement who are facing increases in drug-related crimes, and businesses who struggle to find workers who can pass a drug test. I have introduced bipartisan legislation to help reduce opioid overdose deaths through improved access to the life-saving drug naloxone, as well as a bill to hold the FDA accountable for the approval of new, potentially dangerous opioid drugs. I also introduced a bipartisan amendment included in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, which will allow Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage to use a “lock-in” measure to help identify senior citizens at risk of addiction. I will continue to urge my colleagues to increase funding for critical prescription drug abuse prevention, treatment and research programs that can help communities fight this epidemic.
As your Senator, I am committed to improving our health care system and lowering the growth in health care costs. The Affordable Care Act is a critical step in this direction. In addition to extending Medicare’s solvency, the Affordable Care Act expands health insurance coverage to the uninsured, uses refundable tax credits to help working families afford quality health care and reins in the worst insurance company abuses.
The Affordable Care Act also ends the practice of denying care to those with pre-existing conditions and allows seniors to purchase more affordable prescription drugs and receive free preventive care that will help reduce the cost and incidence of chronic diseases. Because of this legislation, 137 million Americans now have access to preventive health services with no cost sharing and small businesses will receive tax credits to help pay for the costs of coverage for their employees.
Although more than 16 million Americans, including 286,000 Virginians, have gained access to quality affordable health care through state and federal exchanges, important fixes are still needed to fulfill this promise for all families. As Senator, I have cosponsored legislation to give consumers shopping for health insurance more options to meet their financial needs. I introduced the Family Coverage Act, legislation to help families access tax credits on state and federal healthcare exchanges to ensure they get the most affordable coverage possible. I also co-sponsored the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act, a bipartisan bill that will prevent premiums from rising for millions of Americans, which was passed into law in October 2015.
We must do more to lower costs while improving the quality of care through promoting preventive care, effectively using technology, paying our health care providers by patient outcomes and finding ways to reduce defensive medicine and lower malpractice premiums without taking rights away from injured people.
Senator Kaine appreciates your feedback on this and other issues. Fill out the form below to share your feedback on this issue.