Growing up in Red Wing, I knew and could feel that I was part of a community that cared for its neighbors. When someone had a serious illness, the community came together to offer support and prayer. When neighbors faced going bankrupt because of medical bills, the community held potlucks or fundraisers. My community lived by a simple, undeniable creed: “give kindness and take care of each other.”
My community has grown over the years, but my responsibilities to it remain the same. That’s why our district must ensure we care for our own and each other, especially when it comes to healthcare. Although we’ve made progress to improve access to coverage, too many Americans are still unable to access the care they need or afford their premiums and out-of-pocket costs. For the health of our neighbors and communities, we must and can do better.
We cannot go backwards to a time where insurance companies discriminated against those with pre-existing conditions and denied them coverage they needed. That is why I will fight to protect the hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans with pre-existing conditions so they can get the care they need without breaking the bank.
Universal Healthcare Coverage
We need to ensure that all Minnesotans can access comprehensive, affordable healthcare. The Affordable Care Act was an important step toward reaching that goal, but our current healthcare system is still leaving too many Minnesotans to fall through the cracks.
We need to do better. Accessible and affordable universal healthcare coverage is right for Minnesota. People in our community who are sick should be able to seek care when they need it, and no one in our community should have to choose between paying the medical bills or feeding their family. As your Congressman, I will push to ensure strong, trusted coverage for many more Minnesotans and will work to expand Medicare eligibility age to 55. Additionally, I will join bipartisan efforts to build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act and work to make the individual market, which our farmers, entrepreneurs, and others rely on, more stable and more affordable.
Protecting Social Security and Medicare
People have earned their Social Security and Medicare benefits by paying into it their entire career. I oppose efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits because doing so would not only be unfair, but it would also be disastrous for the economic stability and health of our seniors.
We need to make sure that the realities of rural communities are part of health reform discussions and that they have a seat at the table, both to address the challenges they face and learn from their successes. Our rural communities face unique challenges, but also have unique strengths when it comes to providing healthcare.
In traveling across our district, I’ve met with countless Minnesotans living in rural areas that don’t have access to local providers or have to drive hours for the care they need. In Congress, I will work to address these growing healthcare workforce shortages and challenges by promoting early exposure to health careers and support programs that recruit and train providers in rural areas. I’ve also heard incredible stories of communities working to address obesity, mental health, or isolation among seniors. I will also push to expand the great innovation happening in our rural communities that provides healthcare, not sick care and that is really making a difference in the patient’s overall health, and the health of the community.
Caring for our Veterans
We need to fight for better access to quality healthcare for our veterans and service members. That starts with taking better care of the needs of our active duty service members on the front end and ensuring that we provide VA healthcare benefits to veterans on the back end to recognize the sacrifice and service they have made.
Although the VA and TriCare system has shown some improvements over the past decade, particularly in Minnesota, I will work to ensure veterans have access to VA healthcare benefits, and will continue to build on the progress made in providing mental health and chemical dependency services, including for our active duty members and their families.
We need to bring down the skyrocketing price of prescription medications for families across our state. Minnesotans are spending too much of their paychecks on the rising cost of their prescriptions forcing many families to make the difficult choice between paying for needed medications or putting food on the table.
Our neighbors, loved ones, and others shouldn’t have to make this choice. There is no single solution to lowering prescription drug prices, and as a Congressman, I will work to bring down prescription drug prices on many fronts making them affordable and accessible through common-sense reforms focusing on how they are developed, negotiated, and sold. I plan to join colleagues, like Senator Amy Klobuchar, to protect consumers by addressing current anticompetitive practices that prevent the cheaper generic alternative from coming to market. I also will work to increase affordability by allowing Medicare to use its purchasing power and negotiate directly with prescription drug companies.
We need to ensure that our approach and support to address addiction and the opioid epidemic reflects the experience of families and our communities.
Across our state, we have seen an increase in opioid addiction and opioid related death, which doesn’t begin to tell the story of how loved ones or our community are affected. As Congressman, I will first fight to end the stigma around addiction, ensuring that it is recognized as the disease that it is to help ensure families and individuals are able to access the healthcare services and treatment they need to get well. Secondly, I will focus our efforts across the continuum seeking ways to both prevent, respond, treat, and support long-term recovery of opioid addiction to ensure that across our communities we are developing sustainable solutions that not only address the current crisis, but prevent it from growing or happening in the future.