It is nothing short of cruel to fail to offer every American a basic level of healthcare when all around us we have some of the best health care professionals, facilities, and pharmaceuticals in the world.  While many people enjoy access through their employers, some—young and old, employed and not—lack health insurance, often through no fault of their own. Ensuring that everyone can access basic health services doesn’t mean giving a “hand-out” to some; on the contrary, making sure that our healthcare system is better equipped to serve everyone is an effective and efficient economic investment in our community. Preventative care costs less than emergency-room visits. Healthier people make healthier neighborhoods and more robust communities. When we invest in healthcare, we’re investing in each other.

For these reasons, I support all policies that increase the number of people able to access affordable, high quality health insurance. For instance, young people should continue to be able to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. People should not be denied health insurance on the basis of a pre-existing condition. And I am committed to maintaining Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) so they are well able to serve vulnerable populations. In addition to increasing the number of people on health insurance, we should also work to increase the quality of care that Americans are able to access, and that means ensuring access to quality care for mental health as well as physical health.

One type of Medicaid reform that I do support is converting the free/fee structure of these programs from a ‘cliff’ to a ‘sliding scale’ so that a parent does not have to choose between working and getting healthcare for their kids; this type of difficult choice only encourages people to remain dependent on assistance, compared to a program that enables people to pay relatively small amounts into a program as their income increases which would support their transition to independence

Lastly, high prescription drug prices present a major barrier for many Americans seeking medical treatment. We should not allow pharmaceutical executives to turn big profits at the cost of Americans’ health, and certainly not their lives. I support policies aimed at reducing the cost of prescription drugs.

Next: Read Tracy’s Op-Ed “The Path towards Healthcare Reform and Access for All”