The Democratic Party-Tackling Drug Costs and Improving Healthcare Quality

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.

I’m writing a series of blog posts about each major political party’s platform on healthcare and related issues. I take this information directly from the website of each party and include the link so you can read the complete document.

We’ve already looked at the parties’ views on gun related violence and health insurance.

Whether you are registered as Republican, Democrat, Independent, or some other party, ultimately you will vote for a person. Do your research and learn what that person stands for, and whether it aligns with their party policy.

This post will review the Democratic position , and will be followed by the Republican stance in a few days. Follow this blog so you’ll know when each post in the series is online.

Note: the photos are for illustration, are not affiliated with the party platform, and are not intended to influence your opinion.

The Democratic Party Platform

This party platform was considered by the 2020 Platform committee at its meeting July 27, 2020 and was approved by the Democratic National Convention August 18, 2020.

Update-August 15, 2022

On August 12, 2022 Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act which, among other things ,made major changes to health policy by giving Medicare the power for the first time to negotiate the prices of certain prescription drugs and extending expiring health care subsidies for three years. It narrowly passed the Senate with a 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Harris casting the tie-breaking vote to approve.

 No American should find themselves foregoing or rationing medications because they can’t afford to pay

the Democratic Party platform

Bringing Down Drug Prices and Taking on the Pharmaceutical Industry

Too many Americans struggle to afford the prescription drugs they need to get or stay healthy. No American should find themselves foregoing or rationing medications because they can’t afford to pay—especially when taxpayer money underwrites research leading to the development of many prescription drugs in the first place.

Democrats will take aggressive action to

  • ensure that Americans do not pay more for prescription drugs than people in other advanced economies, and
  • ensure that all necessary medications are covered.
  • empower Medicare to at last be able to negotiate prescription drug prices for all public and private purchasers—for families and businesses, as well as older Americans—no matter where they get their coverage.
  • prevent the price of brand-name and outlier generic drugs from rising faster than the inflation rate.
  • cap out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors, and ensure that effective treatments for chronic health conditions are available at little or no cost.
white capsules in front of a prescription bottle
Photo by Julie Viken on Pexels.com

For too long, prescription drug companies have gamed the system to justify their price increases by any means available. Democrats will

  • crack down on anti-competitive efforts to manipulate the patent system or collude on prices.
  • eliminate tax breaks for prescription drug advertisements.

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.

Reducing Health Care Costs and Improving Health Care Quality

The United States spends more per capita on health care than any other advanced economy, and has less to show for it. Health care costs have been increasing for decades, with average premiums for an employer-provided family plan topping $20,000 in 2019.

Democrats know we can reduce out-of-pocket costs for families while improving the quality of health care for all.

We will make it easier for working families to afford high-quality insurance in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces by ensuring that no one pays more than 8.5 percent of their income in premiums and eliminating the cap on subsidies.

Democrats believe that when Americans are in the hospital or an emergency room, they shouldn’t have to worry about whether their health care providers are in-network or not.

We will

  • outlaw the predatory practice of surprise medical billing.
  • work to increase price transparency in the health care system across all payers.
  • reduce paperwork through uniform medical billing.
  • use antitrust laws to fight against mega-mergers in the hospital, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries that would raise prices for patients by undermining market competition.

Democrats will fight any efforts to cut Medicare benefits, and support finding financially sustainable policies to expand Medicare to cover dental, vision, and hearing.

a female physician talking to a male patient
FROM LIGHTSTOCK.COM, AFFILIATE LINK

Democrats will support policies that increase the number of primary care practitioners, registered nurses, dentists, and dental therapists, especially in rural and low-income metropolitan areas, so it’s easier for every American to access preventive and primary health care.

Democrats value all people and will actively promote wellness programs for all ages in our diverse communities for better overall health.

Drugged Driving-Drug and alcohol use can impair driving by affecting critical thinking and motor skills.
NIH IMAGE GALLERY

Expanding Access to Mental Health and Substance Use Treatment

Every American who needs it should be able to access mental health care or substance use disorder treatment, no matter where they live.

Democrats will

aggressively enforce the federal mental health and substance use disorder parity law and ensure that health insurers adequately cover mental health and substance use treatment.

invest in training and hiring more mental health providers, substance use disorder counselors, and peer support counselors, expanding funding for health clinics, especially in rural areas, and increasing access to these services through Medicaid.

support increased training for health care professionals, educators, social workers, and other care workers in trauma-informed care and practices.

oppose efforts to weaken HIPAA and FERPA privacy rights of people with mental illness.

make medication-assisted treatment available to all who need it, and will require publicly supported health clinics to offer medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction and approved treatments for other substance use disorders.

Incarcerated people suffer from serious mental health and substance use disorders at higher rates than the general population, which is why we will

  • support expanded access to mental health and substance use disorder care in prisons and for returning citizens.
  • ensure no one is incarcerated solely for drug use, and
  • support increased use of drug courts, harm reduction interventions, and treatment diversion programs for those struggling with substance use disorders.
Tips for talking with your health care provider about your mental health-prepare before visit, bring a friend or relative, be honest, ask questions
NIH IMAGE GALLERY

Expanding Long-Term Care Services and Supports

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of people who reside in institutional settings, such as nursing homes and independent living facilities, and made clear that biases within Medicaid create undue barriers to home- and community-based long-term services and supports.

Democrats will

work to eliminate waiting lists for home and community-based care and the institutional bias within Medicaid, making investments in building the capacity of the Medicaid system to provide home and community-based services

modernize Medicaid eligibility so people with disabilities do not have to work low-wage jobs to access needed services, and to ensure the spouses of people with disabilities can maintain a certain level of income and assets.

help Americans pay for long-term care by creating a tax credit for informal and family caregivers and increasing the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

pursue policies to improve nursing home staffing and quality standards, strengthen accreditation processes, and combat corporate abuses in nursing homes and independent living facilities.

And Democrats are strongly committed to protecting and enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act and fulfilling the promise of the Olmstead v. L.C. decision, which found institutional segregation of people with disabilities to be unlawful.

a man in a wheelchair

exploring the HEART of healthcare policy

I appreciate your interest in the politics of healthcare, an issue that is vital to all of us every day. These proposals will become more focussed and debated as election day approaches; the national election is Tuesday Novembe 8, 2022. Please exercise your right to vote, I intend to.

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

Dr Aletha

A Natural Woman- Carole King shares a lifetime of music, a season of pain

Her life reminds us that people who appear successful and accomplished in some areas of life, may be unhappy and hurting in others. We may never know the pain that some have walked through to get where they are.

A Natural Woman: A Memoir

Although Carole King did not write “A Natural Woman” for herself (she and her first husband were asked to write it for Aretha Franklin), the song aptly fits her life also.

She grew up in a close Jewish family, attended school where she excelled in performing arts and graduated early. She married young and  loved her husbands (four of them) passionately. She doted on her four children and did all the typical mom things- driving them to activities, homeschooling, sewing their clothes. She cooked food that she grew herself and even milked a goat she owned. She welcomed grandchildren and cared for aging parents.

She could almost be any 70 year old woman- except she is a Grammy award winning singer/songwriter who has written over 100 songs, including many of the greatest hits from the 1970s. In 2013 she became the first woman to be awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

inserts from our Carole King music CD collection
inserts from our Carole King music CD collection

Ms. King was at the height of her career in 1972 when my husband and I met, and found we had a mutual appreciation for her music, and still do. So, even though I don’t read memoirs of celebrities, I made an exception this time. I wanted to know more about this talented woman, and I was not disappointed.

As  I listened to the book’s audio version, read by the author,  I marvelled at  how she managed to live such a normal and successful life while experiencing a series of traumatic experiences starting in childhood. These included

  • a sibling with physical and developmental disabilities
  • the dissolution of her parents’ marriage
  • financial instability in her early career
  • the breakdown of her four marriages
  • an extended civil lawsuit
  • accidents resulting in serious physical injury
  • exposure to mental illness and substance abuse

The last issue is noteworthy in that it led to two of her divorces. It also led to several years in which she suffered verbal and physical abuse from one of her husbands, who was mentally ill and addicted to drugs. She candidly admits that she submitted to it,  thinking that  she deserved it, he didn’t mean to hurt her, and that he would change. Fortunately, one night she literally woke up with the conviction that she needed help. Counselling helped her develop personal resources to resist and stop the abuse. She urges women in similar circumstances to seek help and recommends

 The National Domestic Violence Hotline | 24/7 Confidential Support.

I am sad that she  experienced such pain in her life, all the while brightening other lives with her music. She said that music helped her cope with the challenges in her life.

Her life reminds us that people who appear successful and accomplished in some areas of life, may be unhappy and hurting in others. We may never know the pain that some have walked through to get where they are.

Carole King insists that she never wanted to be a star or diva, and she zealously guarded her privacy. According to this book, she valued most her family, relationships, writing songs and sharing her music. I am glad she also decided to share this side of her life and the lessons it teaches .  Thank you Carole King.

a selection of Carole King’s music (these are affiliate links)

Tapestry  Carole King’s first and most successful album

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical  the story of Carole’s life and career

Live at the Troubadour Carole King singing with her friend James Taylor

exploring the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

Dr Aletha

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