Securing Universal Health Care
Democrats believe that health care is a right, not a privilege, and our health care system should put people before profits. Thanks to the hard work of President Obama and Democrats in Congress, we took a critically important step toward the goal of universal health care by passing the Affordable Care Act, which has covered 20 million more Americans and ensured millions more will never be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Democrats will never falter in our generations-long fight to guarantee health care as a fundamental right for every American. As part of that guarantee, Americans should be able to access public coverage through a public option, and those over 55 should be able to opt in to Medicare. Democrats will empower the states, which are the true laboratories of democracy, to use innovation waivers under the ACA to develop unique locally tailored approaches to health coverage. This will include removing barriers to states which seek to experiment with plans to ensure universal health care to every person in their state.
Supporting Community Health Centers
We must renew and expand our commitment to Community Health Centers, as well as community mental health centers and family planning centers. These health centers provide critically important, community- based prevention and treatment in underserved communities, prevent unnecessary and expensive trips to emergency rooms, and are essential to the successful implementation of the ACA. We will fight for a comprehensive system of primary health care, including dental, mental health care, and low-cost prescription drugs by doubling of funding for federally qualified community health centers over the next decade, which currently serve 25 million people.
Democrats also know that one of the key ingredients to the success of these health centers is a well- supported and qualified workforce in community-based settings. We will fight to train and support this workforce, encourage providers to work with underserved populations through the National Health Service Corps, and create a comprehensive strategy to increase the pool of primary health care professionals.
Reducing Prescription Drug Costs
It is unacceptable that the United States pays, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription
drugs and that too many Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 cannot afford to fill their prescriptions. A lifesaving drug is no good if it is unaffordable to the very people who need it most. And many drug companies are spending more on advertising than on research. The largest pharmaceutical companies are making billions of dollars per year in profits at higher margins compared to other industries while many stash their profits in offshore tax havens. Meanwhile, they charge Americans thousands of dollars for new drugs—often at much higher costs than in other developed nations. Democrats are committed to investing in the research, development, and innovation that creates lifesaving drugs and lowers overall health costs, but the profiteering of pharmaceutical companies is simply unacceptable.
We will crack down on price gouging by drug companies and cap the amount Americans have to pay out- of-pocket every month on prescription drugs. We will prohibit anti-competitive “pay for delay” deals that keep generic drugs off the market, and we will allow individuals, pharmacists, and wholesalers to import prescription drugs from licensed pharmacies in Canada and other countries with appropriate safety protections. Democrats will also fight to make sure that Medicare will negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers.
Enabling Cutting-Edge Medical Research
Democrats believe we must accelerate the pace of medical progress, ensuring that we invest more in our scientists and give them the resources they need to invigorate our fundamental studies in the life sciences in a growing, stable, and predictable way. We must make progress against the full range of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, HIV and AIDS, cancer, and other diseases, especially chronic ones. We recognize the critical importance of a fully-funded National Institutes of Health to accelerate the pace of medical progress.
Combating Drug and Alcohol Addiction
We must confront the epidemic of drug and alcohol addiction, specifically the opioid crisis and other drugs plaguing our communities, by vastly expanding access to prevention and treatment, supporting recovery, helping community organizations, and promoting better practices by prescribers. The Democratic Party is committed to assisting the estimated 20 million people struggling with addiction in this country to find and sustain healthy lives by encouraging full recovery and integration into society and working to remove common barriers to gainful employment, housing, and education.
We will continue to fight to expand access to care for addiction services, and ensure that insurance coverage is equal to that for any other health conditions. We think it is time for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor, and state regulatory agencies to fully implement the protections of the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act of 2008—which means that American medical insurers, including the federal government, will need to disclose how they make their medical management decisions.
We should also do more to educate our youth, as well as their families, teachers, coaches, mentors, and friends, to intervene early to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. We should help state and local leaders establish evidence-based, age-appropriate, and locally-tailored prevention programs. These programs include school-based drug education programs that have been shown to have meaningful effects on risky behavior; community-based peer mentorship and leadership programs; and after-school activities that deter drug use and encourage life skills.
Treating Mental Health
We must treat mental health issues with the same care and seriousness that we treat issues of physical health, support a robust mental health workforce, and promote better integration of the behavioral and general health care systems. Recognizing that maintaining good mental health is critical to all people, including young people’s health and development, we will work with health professionals to ensure that all children have access to mental health care. We must also expand community-based treatment for substance abuse disorders and mental health conditions and fully enforce our parity law. And we should create a national initiative around suicide prevention across the lifespan—to move toward the HHS- promoted Zero Suicide commitment.
Supporting Those Living with Autism and their Families
Democrats believe that our country must make supporting the millions of individuals with autism and those diagnosed in the future and their families a priority. We will conduct a nationwide early screening outreach campaign to ensure that all children, and in particular children from underserved backgrounds, can get screened for autism. We will expand services and support for adults and individuals transitioning into adulthood, including employment and housing assistance. And we will push states to require health insurance coverage for autism services in private insurance plans as well as state marketplaces so that people with autism are not denied care.