The Health Of Our Nation
“What our economy needs to grow is affordable healthcare and a healthy workforce. Sharice Davids wants to put bureaucrats in charge of your healthcare. I believe our great country must always put YOU in the driver’s seat to make decisions about your health needs and that of your family.”
– Amanda Adkins
Health care costs too much and is not making us healthier. This concern has only been heightened in light of the coronavirus pandemic – a time when individuals with pre-existing conditions and older Americans are at elevated risk.
We are weeks away from the Supreme Court determining the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This is a turning point and we must decide as a country what kind of healthcare system we want today and for future generations.
I believe we need a better plan than Obamacare for how we deal with crisis in the healthcare system. Healthcare reform must address coverage issues and continue to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions. However, the American people should expect more than ‘band-aid’ solutions that do not reduce the cost of health care. Real change will only come when there is direct alignment between the individual and providers, better coordination of care, and transparency on total cost of care.
When elected to Congress, I will be committed to health care that is:
- Smarter – I will support policy solutions that encourage providers, the most trusted resource in healthcare, to coordinate care over a lifetime, resulting in better health outcomes and lower costs.
- More transparent – We need transparency on total cost of care and local decision-making on how money is spent.
- Affordable – Healthcare decisions must center on the individual and the family, not be dictated by the government. These decisions should assume that healthcare dollars are directly managed by the individual, based on their healthcare risks and needs. When that is not possible these decisions should be managed at the state or community level.
Standing for Real Change
Our healthcare system was broken long before COVID-19, but the pandemic created an urgent need for common sense reforms. We need to reduce cost, cut red tape, and make it easier for individuals and families to gain access to the healthcare services they need. My opponent, Sharice Davids, wants to do just the opposite – put bureaucrats in charge of healthcare, eliminate or make more expensive employer-based insurance, and impose massive healthcare taxes on families.
Congress lacks enough leaders with business and healthcare experience, and we owe it to future generations to resolve the issues related to the financing and management of the US healthcare system. As a leader in healthcare for more than a decade, my mission is to make the system better.
Making Health Care Smarter
Healthcare providers are the most important relationship in helping identify and manage risk – particularly in the current crisis – as well as coordinate care. Federal leaders need to support providers in this work.
The pandemic has created an opportunity for providers to rethink how they engage people, including through the more rapid expansion of telehealth services. Telehealth services allow for electronic communication between a person and their provider to get advice, gain care, receive reminders and address some healthcare needs. While telehealth was never intended to replace in-person care, it can provide an easy and efficient avenue for people to access medical advice quickly and safely, particularly in today’s environment.
In August, President Trump released an Executive Order to advance and improve telehealth access for Medicare beneficiaries. We must ensure this step is made permanent and providers are reimbursed appropriately time spent on telehealth visits.
Furthermore, we need to pay attention to rising concerns regarding mental health and well-being in the United States. Care coordination techniques, including telehealth, can provide routine care for basic needs, but it cannot solve for more ingrained problems in a community, including behavioral and mental health issues. In a Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in mid-July, 53% of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the Coronavirus. This is compared to 32% reported in March. We know mental well-being is impacted by conditions in daily life where people live, learn, and work – these conditions are also called social determinants of health. Healthcare providers are important, but we must also consider the role that schools, churches, and other community organizations can play in identifying risk and helping people find resources to live a high quality and healthy life.
We must consider new ways to incentivize healthcare providers and community service organizations to meet and manage mental health risks. A spiraling cycle of unknown and/or unmanaged health conditions won’t help flatten the overall cost of health care over time. We should all expect more value in the programs and services we purchase.
The best way to demand excellence includes creation of health plans sponsored by providers in partnership with community organizations that offer high-quality programs, transparent fees and care that is coordinated and designed to improve the health of the individual and the family. The federal government should encourage this step at the state and local levels.
I support incentivizing improved quality, at reasonable, market-driven prices with services delivered at the local community level. This regional approach stands in stark contrast to Obamacare and federal government control in the healthcare system.
Improve Transparency And Affordability In Our Healthcare System
The ACA “Obamacare” experiment enacted in law a decade ago has only resulted in increasing the cost of care for the American people. The Obamacare mandate dictating what healthcare coverage individuals must purchase, without taking into consideration their needs, only served to increase cost. As a result, Kansans were, on average, paying monthly fees that were were 106% higher in 2017 than in 2013. This is an unacceptable increase in the cost of care when families could be using that money for needs that would otherwise be stimulating the economy.
It is likely that the Supreme Court will rule ACA “Obamacare” unconstitutional, at which point we need to determine the best path for individuals and families to keep health insurance in the midst of a pandemic. As I have long said, health care is local and states are best positioned to design coverage, taking into consideration the risks and needs of their populations – not the federal government. I support using funds, previously committed for Obamacare, to support grants that assist states with low income individuals and supplement medical costs of eligible high-risk individuals. The goal is to bring decision-making closer to the people while also providing for the needs of vulnerable populations as best determined by state governments. It is imperative that healthcare funding is tied to decision-making.
Most important – I hope state governments will view healthcare reform as an opportunity to put individuals and families in charge. Obamacare focused on low cost provider services as opposed to market-driven, high performance services. True healthcare reform will enable healthcare at a reasonable cost; respects the decision-making authority of the individual and the family; aligns families with their chosen physicians; and focuses on actual health improvement.
Making Health Care More Affordable
The best way for Americans to control their own healthcare starts with financing costs through Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Health Savings Accounts are pre-tax dollars set aside by an individual or family to help cover healthcare costs not covered by insurance. Current law limits the amount an individual and family can contribute to an HSA, and prohibits HSAs from being the primary source of healthcare funds.
In contrast, I support Americans using funds as they see fit. If a person does not want to purchase traditional healthcare insurance, he or she should be able to utilize an HSA account for any medical or health needs. If someone does choose to purchase health insurance, it should be portable and he or she should be able to use HSA funds to pay premiums. Furthermore, HSA contribution limits should be increased to match the annual healthcare expense needs of an average individual ($9,000) and family ($18,000).
While Democrats continue to pursue expanded federal control of health care, I am committed to moving healthcare dollars and decisions closer to the people affected. We must move away from Obamacare’s “Washington-centric” approach and give states the decision-making authority for public programs and insurance design.
It’s Personal … Your Future Health And Generations To Come
Change requires that we, the American people: 1.) Are thoughtful about the health conditions unique to our communities; 2.) Seek to generate results in health improvement; and 3.) Flatten the cost of our healthcare system.
All three are key to prosperity in any region. The economy will grow when health care is affordable and people are healthy enough to work.
Sharice Davids believes more decisions should be made by the government. I believe decisions should be made by YOU and your family using the money you have earned through your hard work.