healthcare

My path to healthcare is personal. Everyone in my family, including me, has a pre-existing condition. And everything changed for us when a close family member was diagnosed with a chronic illness. Their treatment is expensive and their symptoms make it difficult, if not impossible, to work. After receiving my EMT certification I discovered a glaring hole in much of rural Montana’s access to healthcare. So, my family decided to startup a small in-home healthcare business that focused on bringing that access to care to Western Montana. In doing so we could take care of each other while also addressing a huge need in our half of the state.

 

It became readily apparent that rural healthcare in our state was at a crisis point. In my travels to areas with only one critical access healthcare facility I met nurses begging that we take on the patients they didn’t have capacity for. I knew I had to do more. My town was represented by a Republican in the state legislature that callously called for cutting our Montana Medicaid expansion program in half – cruelly cutting 50,000 Montanans off of their healthcare, all to appease an extremist ideology. 

 

That’s why I worked to re-authorize our successful Montana Medicaid Expansion, ensuring healthcare for almost 90,000 Montanans. And I went further, bringing legislation to:

 

  • Protect those of us with pre-existing conditions

  • Institute a lifetime cap ban in Montana, protecting families with children born with serious illnesses and those of us with chronic conditions

  • Institute an innovative subscription model for the state’s high-cost drugs to save money and lives

  • Ensure the health of our rural hospitals

  • Expand access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid users

  • Protect us from predatory junk insurance plans

 

Healthcare for All

Our health is not some partisan game. Healthcare is a fundamental right. We should never have to choose between paying for food, rent, and utility bills or purchasing medication. Yet most Montanans live on the knife’s edge between making the mortgage and hoping that we don’t get sick or injured and get stuck paying a ruinously high deductible.

 

I will work to bring healthcare for all. It is the only way to ensure our families remain healthy, our economy productive, and our society just. I will support transformative healthcare legislation that:

  • guarantees all Americans healthcare as a right

  • does not increase taxes on the middle class

  • allows private insurance for those who wish to keep it

Our Changing Healthcare Landscape

Our healthcare system needs reform on day one, and the fundamental changes it requires will take years. As a policymaker, it is not enough to simply say “healthcare is a right”.

 

That’s why I support legislation to shore up the ACA, and specifically the insurance marketplaces, so that our system can function as well as possible during the coming transition period. In the meantime, we can build a foundation that allows us to work towards fundamentally re-orienting our system to provide healthcare for all.

 

It is important to note that right now, this Administration is attempting to destroy the ACA through a spurious court case. If they are successful we will lose even the imperfect system we have now. That is why I will:

 

  • Fight for the continued health of the ACA insurance marketplaces

  • Work with insurers and providers to reform the ACA 

  • Support the Healthcare Affordability Act to ensure middle class Montanans can afford their insurance

  • Support the Protecting Pre-existing Conditions & Making Health Care More Affordable Act to ensure the stability of the ACA

  • Continue all efforts to achieve goal of healthcare for all

  • And always, always fight for pre-existing conditions coverage and against lifetime caps

Access and Rural Healthcare

About 65% of Montanans are located in rural areas. Our state also has the second largest Congressional seat in the country. Yet, we continue to elect congresspeople that put partisan politics before their constituents. When they undermine our health insurance market, and when they side with big pharma, they contribute to our rural health crisis.

 

We need to train and empower more homegrown healthcare professionals to live and work in our rural communities. From social workers to family practitioners to nurses to rural care organizations, all would be helped by increased Medicare reimbursement rates. Montana needs a representative in federal government to fight for resources to train the next generation of rural healthcare providers in our state. We also must:

 

  • Utilize technology to increase patient access by equipping more health professionals with telemedicine services

  • Implement Alternative-Payment Models (APM) like Value-Based Purchasing (VBP)

  • Control costs by mandating true universal exchange of health data to eliminate costly and/or duplicative care

  • Expand Global Payment Systems to help rural hospitals cut on overhead costs and incentivize preventative care

  • Pass the Rural MOMS Act to ensure the same outcomes for rural families as for urban ones

  • Expand residency programs in HPSAs across the rural west

  • Increased Medicare reimbursement rates specifically for providers in underserved communities

 

Mental Healthcare

Tragically, our state has the highest rate of suicide in the nation. Yet there is only one psychiatrist east of Billings. Robust federal programs must step in to bring mental health professionals to our towns and Native American reservations that desperately need care. But, we need more than psychiatrists - we need social workers, therapists, and safe spaces for those in crisis to find a hot meal and the assurance that they will be taken care of.

 

Lack of mental healthcare options is especially acute in our rural areas and on our Native American reservations. I will work tirelessly to end this fundamental unfairness in access and treatment options. Like so many of us, I have lost family and friends to mental illness. I will fight to end the fundamental unfairness of our rural areas and reservations having fewer treatment options than our towns and cities.

 

The Opioid Epidemic

The billionaire pharmaceutical companies knew what they were doing when they shipped millions of pills to struggling communities across America. We must do everything we can to hold them accountable while grappling with the continued effects of the opioid epidemic. In the legislature I brought a bill to increase access to treatment options for opioid users, and I will do the same in DC by fighting for an immediate end to the X-waiver requirement, so that all healthcare providers can administer lifesaving treatment to opioid users without needless red tape.

 

Prescription Drugs

We need to stop protecting big pharma and start protecting Americans who are sick. People are rationing their medicine, sometimes even dying, all for the lack of insulin that costs $39 just 15 minutes north of Eureka. I am tired of our leaders letting multinational corporations overcharge Americans, deciding who lives and dies based on how much money they can squeeze out of those of us who are sick. But there’s a simple, immediate fix: Allow for the importation of drugs from Canada and other countries. From there allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices directly with big pharma, as almost all other countries do. I will work to ensure Americans have this right to affordable medications, and I will work to see that big pharma loses its special status in DC.

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