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

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

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.

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

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.

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