Dan Ward believes that all Americans have a right to affordable, accessible, quality healthcare. He believes our elderly residents should not have to worry about cuts to Medicare, that low-income Virginians and their children should not be cast aside by politicians fortunate enough to have never needed services such as Medicaid, and that politicians have no place between a woman and her doctor. Dan believes that hard-working Virginians should be able to come home from work, sit at their dinner table and know that a pre-existing condition or unfortunate accident for them or their kids will not put them in financial ruin.
Dan will always stand up against extremists trying to take health care away from fellow Virginians. We can’t play ideological politics with our nation’s health care system. It’s not good for Virginia and it’s not good for America. Dave Brat and the Republican party have been pushing to kill the Affordable Care Act – not because they are interested in healthcare – but simply to fund a tax break for the wealthy and to fulfill a nonsensical promise to “end Obamacare,” a program that, in fact, most Americans support. Dan believes that any healthcare system capable of providing affordable, accessible, quality healthcare to all Americans, to all Virginians, will require a coordinated combination of free-market players, private non-profit organizations, and government support.
Improving our healthcare system will require more attention to efficacy and less attention to ideology than we have seen in the healthcare debate in recent years.
IMPROVING THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
The ACA gave 20 million more Americans access to affordable health insurance, including many here in the 7th Congressional District of Virginia. Insurers can no longer deny coverage or charge excessive premiums for people with pre-existing conditions. Increased access to preventive care is improving our health and reducing the medical costs of people prone to or suffering from diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Those with severe mental health or substance abuse problems are now more likely to receive the care and assistance they need to live ordinary, productive lives.
The ACA also placed limits on what individuals are required to pay for health care in any year, so that the victims of catastrophic accidents and medical diagnoses no longer have to choose between bankruptcy and medical attention. These are vast improvements over our previous system, but we’re not done yet. We still have work to do to improve the access and quality of healthcare while driving down the tax burden we’ve heard so much about.
Paying for our Nation’s healthcare system is a big challenge that we must face, but American’s are smart, inventive people by nature and we will accomplish this task. Under the old system, doctors and hospitals were rewarded for increased visits, tests and procedures they ordered. So more testing and appointments meant more income for the provider, without necessarily resulting in better care for the patient. We all agree that doesn’t make sense.
Doctors should be paid based on how well they treat a patient, and be relieved of the pressure to spend less time with each person per-visit. The ACA brought America’s top problem-solvers and healthcare experts together to think about better ways to deliver care. Not in secret meetings, but in a year-long bi-partisan open hearing process so Americans and Virginians alike could get more with less. Despite Republican complaints, the overall increase in the cost of healthcare has lessened under the ACA, though premiums have gone up, especially for those whose previous plans provided insufficient coverage.
GOING FORWARD: MORE CHOICE IN RURAL AREAS
The number of people who remain without any health insurance and healthcare facilities continues to be highest in rural areas. Sophisticated medical technology and drug regimens have become standard components of basic health care in the 21st century. But in rural areas like Central Virginia, lack of community health centers mean that our citizens have a hard time with physical access to a doctor, let alone access to the highest standard of care.
The current Congress has grossly endangered basic funding for community health and CHIP – the Medicaid program for children. This widens the gap between the haves and the have-nots, when those very patients who are most vulnerable should be among our highest priorities. Instead, they stand to be the first to lose their footing due to the dysfunction in Congress. Dan will work to increase the presence of community health centers throughout the 7th District to ensure that a doctor’s appointment is within reasonable distance, and that medical help is within reach in case of an emergency.
THE NEXT FRONTIER: A PUBLIC OPTION
Like most legislation, the ACA is not perfect. As your representative in Congress, Dan will work to improve a program that most Virginians support, and combat efforts to sabotage the ACA, or let it “implode.”
Dan will work to ensure that federal premiums for low-income earners are protected, giving hard-working people confidence that they can afford their insurance premiums month over month. This provides stability in a market where people are quickly losing insurance options and facing steep increases in premiums that, let’s face it, are already way too high.
In the few months since Dan launched his campaign two insurance carriers announced they would withdraw from Virginia altogether, which would have forced many hard working Central Virginians to default to “uninsured” status. It’s shameful to think that almost happened to us. While Anthem has come back and will offer insurance in the bare counties, and Dan is glad for that, we may very well face the same problem a year from now. That’s not the ACA and that’s not the economy: That’s a direct result of Dave Brat repeating time and again his clear intent to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. That kind of political jockeying in Washington at the expense of our citizens is totally unacceptable and affects everyone – whether they support “Obamacare” or not.
This is why Dan believes that the federal government should shift existing government healthcare funding to lower the Medicare age. We must sensibly apply our existing resources to increase Medicare eligibility to provide access to insurance through a so-called “Public Option” in addition to Medicaid expansion in Virginia. This would reduce the number of underinsured and uninsured even further. And by creating inherent competition in the market by giving people choices between a private and a federal insurance option we not only bring premiums within reach for our friends and neighbors in Central Virginia, but we create a stable backdrop for the healthcare system that avoids the near-misses like we saw in Central Virginia this summer. And that’s good for everyone.