Let’s work together to fix our healthcare system, not sabotage it
Over the past few months, I’ve spoken with Delawareans at town hall events up and down our state, and whether I’m in Georgetown, Delaware City or Newark, I hear the same thing time and time again: Put politics aside, work together, and get things done.
To every Delawarean who feels that way: I hear you, loud and clear, and I couldn’t agree more, because if we do work together, we can actually make changes that will benefit all American families. That’s particularly true when it comes to improving our healthcare system.
I wasn’t in the Senate when the Affordable Care Act was passed, and I know it’s not perfect, but I firmly believe that instead of scrapping the progress we’ve made to strengthen the quality of health insurance and give more people access to coverage, we should work together to keep improving it.
Scrapping the Affordable Care Act entirely would return us to the days when Delawareans could be denied coverage due to a preexisting condition like cancer, asthma, diabetes or multiple sclerosis. In fact, over 389,000 Delawareans under the age of 65 are currently living with a preexisting condition. It would also mean that millions more Americans could be faced with financial ruin when a loved one gets sick.
Unfortunately, though, the administration is trying to do just that. The administration is arguing in a lawsuit, Texas v. United States, that the Affordable Care Act should be struck down, despite the fact that they have no viable plan to replace it.
We can’t allow political differences to get in the way of Americans’ health care. If we repeal the Affordable Care Act without a plan to replace it, many American families would be impacted.
Those impacts would only get worse until Democrats and Republicans could agree on an entirely new plan for our healthcare system. Recent history has shown us that is an exceptionally difficult task, and realistically, could take us years to accomplish.
So, let’s instead work together to fix our healthcare system, not sabotage it. We can build upon the Affordable Care Act to continue to expand coverage and bring down costs, and there are ways we can do that right now.
First, we need to bring more certainty to the marketplace and provide relief to families whose premiums are increasing every year.
Second, we need to address the high cost of prescription drugs. I’ve supported several proposals this year that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, hold manufacturers accountable when they abruptly increase the cost of drugs, cap out-of-pocket spending for Medicare seniors, and increase transparency for rebates negotiated between pharmacy benefit managers and pharmaceutical companies.
Third, we need to invest in medical research. When the president sought to slash funding to critical organizations like the National Institutes of Health, Republicans and Democrats in Congress worked together to secure increases for NIH-funded research programs. Last year, Congress increased the NIH’s budget by $2 billion and this year, if we put politics aside and work together, I know we can do it again.
Finally, we need to take an all-hands-on-deck, national approach to address our country’s opioid abuse epidemic.
In 2017, nearly 350 people died from overdoses in our state, up 12 percent from the previous year. August 2018 was the deadliest month on record for drug-related overdoses, claiming 39 Delawareans in just 31 days. Republicans and Democrats have made progress - we passed a funding bill last year that included $3.7 billion to help states like Delaware fight the opioid epidemic - but there’s more that needs to be done.
I hope you’ll join me in calling on all members of Congress to put politics aside, work together, and get things done. I know that can sometimes seem impossible, but if there’s anyone up to leading the charge, it’s Delaware. Here, we know that working across the aisle isn’t just a nice thing to do – it’s the only thing to do. It’s the Delaware way.
Sen. Chris Coons is one of Delaware’s two U.S. senators.