The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare long-standing deficiencies and inequities in our healthcare system. As a member of the Coronavirus Select Committee, Bill will continue oversight of the pandemic response, vaccine production and distribution, and to help accumulate lessons learned to improve our response to future pandemics.
Bill Foster believes that health care is a basic human right and that we should continue moving towards universal coverage. One of Bill’s proudest votes in Congress was for the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Bill supports and has voted for a robust public option because he believes it is vital to provide people with a high-quality, low-cost coverage option that competes with for-profit insurance plans. Bill remains committed to strengthening the ACA and ensuring that life-saving health care is available and affordable for everyone. President Biden’s American Rescue Plan strengthened and deepened the ACA and Medicaid coverage to help ensure that life-saving health care is more available and affordable for everyone. Bill believes this step-by-step approach is the most politically viable path towards universal health care.
Bill continues to be actively involved in lowering costs and improving the quality of healthcare in America. For the last three years, Bill was the lead sponsor of an amendment that would allow HHS to integrate a unique patient identifier into electronic health record systems – a change that would save thousands of lives each year by preventing medical errors and save billions of dollars in health care costs. This policy would also prevent “doctor shopping” for opioids, since patients would be unable to go to multiple doctors to seek out additional opioid prescriptions – a huge step forward in combating the prevalence of opioid addiction. Last year, after three years of effort, this amendment passed unanimously in the House – and with Democratic control of the Senate and White House, we hope to finally get this lifesaving amendment signed into law.
Expanding Access to Medicare and Medicaid
The next steps forward in our healthcare system must be to promote universal access to coverage by allowing Americans to buy into a public option, and to further expand eligibility and coverage for Medicaid – two policies that Bill has voted for repeatedly and are supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans. Americans should have a choice between private insurance and a public option in accessing quality and affordable health care, which is why Bill is supporting these initiatives. Employers should also have the choice to enroll their employees in a public option, which would lead to competition on the open market and thereby reduce prices.
Strengthening Medicare While Reducing Costs
Bill is focused on strengthening Medicare to ensure it continues to serve the needs of Americans as they age. One way to do this is to move Medicare away from a fee-for-service model that incentivizes waste and overspending on healthcare and instead encourage payment models focused on paying for quality care and positive health outcomes.
Reducing Prescription Drug Prices
Bill was proud to vote for H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act which passed the House on December 12, 2019 and now awaits action in the Senate. There is no reason Americans should be forced to pay more than people in other countries for the same medication. H.R. 3 would offer major cost savings for more than 500,000 people in the 11th District who have private health insurance, and over 72,000 people enrolled in Medicare Part D. In addition, by allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, it will generate hundreds of billions of dollars in cost-savings that will be reinvested to expand Medicare to include vision, dental, and hearing coverage. It’s time that we put a stop to skyrocketing prescription drug prices that are devastating hardworking American families.
Reducing Costs via Life-Saving Medical Research
The single most effective thing we can do to control healthcare costs over the long term is to support research and development of life-saving cures for debilitating and expensive diseases. Alzheimer’s will be responsible for one third of Medicare spending by 2050. Diabetes costs Americans $327 billion a year and the majority of that cost is covered by Medicaid, Medicare, and the Veterans Administration. A low-cost cure for either one of these diseases would eliminate budgetary stress on Medicare and Medicaid. For diabetes, recent breakthrough clinical trail results with obesity treatments should be deployed as rapidly and broadly as possible. As the only Ph.D. scientist in Congress, Bill has been at the forefront of protecting research budgets at the National Institutes of Health against the proposed budget cuts from the Trump Administration, and expanding them in the post-COVID era.