On Healthcare for All

“Healthcare is a right – not a privilege. I believe in single payer health care for all Americans, and taking every opportunity to expand coverage and lower costs for Wisconsinites. I won’t rest until every single Wisconsinite has access to quality affordable, comprehensive healthcare.”

Every other industrialized nation recognizes the government’s obligation to ensure its citizens have healthcare. While Obamacare established the principle of universal coverage, much work remains to ensure affordable, quality, comprehensive care for all. Our current system still rations healthcare based on ability to pay, employment status, geography, etc. To be competitive, workers and businesses need to be free from the insecurity, inefficiency, cost-shifting, and skyrocketing costs of our current employer-based for-profit insurance system. Ultimately I would prefer to see a comprehensive, affordable universal single payer system, like Medicare for All, established by Congress, but until that time we must build on the strengths of the Affordable Care Act. 

Healthcare access increases individual freedom. When coverage is determined by employers, people are less free to change jobs, retire, start a business, take time to care for a child or loved one, or pursue education — they can’t risk going without coverage. Making Badgercare available to all would help unleash people’s economic potential and afford them flexibility in caring for their families.

Increased access to healthcare will help our businesses compete. Right now, small businesses like mine have a hard time affording high-quality health insurance, making it difficult to attract and retain employees, and costs are unpredictable. America’s medium and large businesses are at a disadvantage in a global marketplace, because their international counterparts do not pay for health insurance.  

Build on the protections of the Affordable Care Act, making Badgercare a public option. I will build a Wisconsin exchange to reign in costs and provide more options than currently available. I also support increasing the medical loss ratio over time, to ensure that insurance companies become more efficient and use our premiums to provide care rather than line the pockets of executives.

Expand successful pilot programs to reduce health care costs and increase quality. Many successful programs have proven it is possible to both improve patient outcomes and quality of life while decreasing costs. Many of these programs have changed the payment model away from fee-for-service to allow providers to be paid for keeping patients healthy. This is especially important for populations like the elderly and those with chronic diseases, who may require more care and incur higher costs.

Accept federal Medicaid expansion dollars. Rejecting federal healthcare money has cost our state a lot: over $1 billion in healthcare funds, 10,000 lost healthcare jobs, and nearly 80,000 Wisconsinites lost access to affordable health care.

Treat mental and behavioral health needs in the healthcare system, not the criminal justice system. Too often, people struggling with substance use disorder or mental illness are funneled into jails and prisons, where they don’t get the services they need and their challenges are exacerbated. With Wisconsin’s opioid crisis continuing to grow, this is even more urgent – we must redouble our focus on prevention, treatment, and harm reduction, using evidence-based public health strategies.

Ensure culturally competent, non-discriminatory care for all populations. We must work to eliminate healthcare disparities based on race, class, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity, age, or any other factor. Every person deserves access to high quality care. Politicians should never interfere in private medical decisions.

Environmental health affects human health. Pollution can cause or exacerbate human ailments; we must protect clean air, water, and soil for the wellbeing of people and planet.

Guarantee reproductive health care access. I have been a champion for reproductive rights and justice my entire career. Women and men deserve access to comprehensive healthcare, including the full spectrum of reproductive healthcare, from family planning and contraception, to healthy pregnancy and birth, to abortion care, to the right to parent healthy children. Politicians should never interfere with the most personal, private, family healthcare decisions.