Turning Ideas into Action
Senator Klobuchar on Health Care and Prescription Drugs
Too many Americans struggle to pay for health care and their prescription drugs. Senator Klobuchar believes that the Affordable Care Act is a beginning, not an end, and that changes need to be made on both the state and federal level to bring down health care costs. She has fought the Trump Administration’s efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and believes that we must do more to help people gain affordable coverage rather than kicking people with pre-existing conditions off of their health insurance.
Quality and accessible health care is a personal matter for Senator Klobuchar and her family. When her daughter Abigail was born, Abigail was very sick. But due to an insurance company rule, Senator Klobuchar was forced to leave the hospital just 24 hours after her daughter was born. As a private citizen, the Senator took the issue to the state legislature and fought to pass one of the first laws in the country guaranteeing moms and their babies a 48-hour hospital stay.
In the Senate, Senator Klobuchar has fought for better, more affordable health care. She has pushed for legislation to bring down health care copays and deductibles and her legislation to prevent shortages of life-saving medications was signed into law. Senator Klobuchar also leads several bipartisan bills to lower prescription drug costs, including lifting the ban that prohibits Medicare from negotiating for the best possible price of prescription drugs on behalf of 43 million seniors, stopping pharmaceutical companies from blocking cheaper generic alternatives, and allowing the personal importation of safe, affordable drugs from countries like Canada. And along with a bipartisan group of three other senators, she introduced and passed the landmark federal blueprint bill on combating the opioid epidemic.
As President, Senator Klobuchar will reduce health care costs and expand coverage by:
- Bringing down the cost of health care for everyone by putting a non-profit public option in place that allows people to buy into affordable health insurance coverage through Medicare or Medicaid.
- Improving the Affordable Care Act to help bring down costs for consumers by expanding premium subsidies and providing cost-sharing reductions to lower out-of-pocket health care costs like copays and deductibles.
- Making it easier for states to put reinsurance programs in place that protect against premiums going up for everyone due to a small number of patients with extremely high health care costs.
- Prioritizing delivery system reform so that health care delivery rewards the quality of care instead of the volume of services.
- Putting key consumer protections in place like stopping surprise medical bills that include unexpected charges and stopping the sale of junk health insurance plans.
- Addressing disparities in maternal and infant mortality and addressing the shortage of maternity care health professionals in underserved rural and urban areas.
- Strengthening Medicare and providing incentives for getting the best quality health care at the best price and expanding coverage for dental, vision and hearing under Medicare.
- Creating a refundable tax credit to offset long-term care costs and reducing the costs of long-term care insurance.
As President, Senator Klobuchar will tackle the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs by:
- Lifting the ban on Medicare negotiations for prescription drugs by passing and signing into law Senator Klobuchar’s Empowering Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act.
- Allowing personal importation of safe drugs from countries like Canada by passing and signing into law Senator Klobuchar’s bipartisan Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act.
- Stopping pharmaceutical companies from blocking less-expensive generics by passing and signing into law Senator Klobuchar’s bipartisan Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act and Biosimilars Act.
- Allowing the temporary importation of drugs that have been approved in another country with similar safety requirements and face little or no competition in the United States by passing and signing into law Senator Klobucar’s bipartisan Short on Competition Act.
- Addressing abuses and delay tactics that prevent generic companies from performing the necessary testing and distribution necessary for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.
As President, Senator Klobuchar will also make reforms to the health care system by:
- Taking on mental health and addiction by launching new prevention and early intervention initiatives, expanding access to treatment, and giving all Americans a path to sustainable recovery.
- Stopping the concerted attack to undermine and eliminate a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.
- Investing in Alzheimer’s research with the goal of putting us on a path toward developing a cure and treatment by 2025.
- Expanding rural health care by revising Medicare rules so that our rural hospitals can stay open, providing better support to critical access hospitals and community health centers, and expanding telehealth services.
In addition, Senator Klobuchar has laid out a plan for her first 100 days that includes executive action she can take immediately to expand access to care and address rising health care costs:
Immediately suspend the Trump Administration’s efforts to eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Senator Klobuchar will immediately suspend all Trump Administration efforts — both in federal court and at the Department of Health and Human Services — that would allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
End anticompetitive practices that increase the price of prescription drugs. Many pharmaceutical companies have found loopholes in regulations that allow them to block or delay cost-saving competition like refusing to provide samples or share important information about how to distribute a drug safely. As President, Senator Klobuchar will instruct HHS to issue regulations to stop anti-competitive practices and help reduce the cost of prescription drugs.
Prioritize mental health and addiction. Senator Klobuchar will take immediate action to combat substance use disorders and prioritize mental health, including launching new prevention and early intervention initiatives, expanding access to treatment,enforcing mental health parity laws, and giving Americans a path to sustainable recovery. This includes addressing workforce shortages for nurses, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals in many areas of the country and it means addressing the lack of hospital services and treatment beds.
Develop best models of care to address disparities in maternal and infant mortality and address the shortage of maternity care health professional in underserved rural and urban areas. Senator Klobuchar will immediately implement a new law that tackles the shortage of maternity care health professionals — including nurses, midwives, and obstetricians — in underserved areas, and she will develop best models of care to address racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality.
End the sale of junk insurance policies that eliminate existing protections for consumers. Senator Klobuchar will end efforts to provide short-term junk insurance that eliminates existing protections for consumers like protections for people with pre-existing conditions and Affordable Care Act requirements to cover essential health benefits.
Expand Medicaid reimbursement for people receiving mental health or substance use treatment. While she works to pass a permanent legislative solution, Senator Klobuchar will make it easier for states to qualify for waivers that allow for Medicaid reimbursements for people receiving mental health or substance use care in facilities with more than 16 beds.
Prioritize health care delivery system reform to reduce health care costs. Senator Klobuchar will immediately identify value-based delivery system reforms, including in Medicare and Medicaid, and she will create incentives for employers and insurers to expand new payment models.
Invest in Alzheimer’s research. Senator Klobuchar will commit to preventing, treating and facilitating a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, with the goal of putting us on a path toward developing a cure and treatment by 2025. She will also immediately expand initiatives that provide support for family caregivers.
Expand the open enrollment period for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act so more people can get insurance coverage. Rather than shortening the open enrollment period on the exchanges from November 1st to December 15th, which happened under the Trump Administration, Senator Klobuchar will expand the open enrollment period for exchange enrollment so more people can access health insurance.
Invest in the Veterans Health Administration. Expanding access to private care cannot come at the expense of fully funding and even expanding the current Veterans Health Administration (VHA) infrastructure. Senator Klobuchar will direct the VHA to use data on private care usage only as a means to help guide investments in its own growth, not as a way to further privatize its core functions.
Stop Trump sabotage of the ACA by ending workarounds that allow states to raise premiums for sicker people and shift ACA premium subsidies away from lower-income enrollees. Senator Klobuchar will eliminate the Trump Administration guidance that provides states more flexibility to increase insurance costs for sicker people and shift premium subsidies away from low-income enrollees.
Encourage reinsurance programs. Rather than penalizing states who put reinsurance programs in place, which happened under the Trump Administration, Senator Klobuchar will encourage states to adopt reinsurance programs that stabilize the state’s insurance marketplace, lower premiums, and allow more people to access to affordable, quality health care.
Direct the Department of Health and Human Services to consider VHA facilities when designating Health Professional Shortage Areas.Senator Klobuchar has long pressed for HHS to consider adding VHA facilities as Health Professional Shortage areas. Once designated, these facilities have access to health professional students with scholarships and loan forgiveness who pledge to practice in the program for at least two years. As President, Senator Klobuchar would direct HHS to revise its current regulations for defining Health Professional Shortage areas to include VHA facilities.
Ensure funding for Planned Parenthood, end the global and domestic gag rules, and restore the Title X program. Senator Klobuchar will reverse the Trump Administration’s decision to change the Title X program to ban health providers like Planned Parenthood from receiving funding under Title X. She will end the global and domestic gag rules, and she will fight for legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade and protects women’s reproductive rights
Reassess the granting of Medicaid waivers, including states that have privatized Medicaid. Senator Klobuchar will conduct a reassessment of the granting of Medicaid waivers for states that wish to privatize the program and impose discriminatory work requirements.
Expand investments in veterans telehealth services. Senator Klobuchar will further expand investments in VA telehealth to ensure rural veterans have access to medical professionals, especially for mental health services.
Strengthen the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. Senator Klobuchar will fully support the National Science Foundation and ensure that research decisions are being made by researchers and scientists, not politicians. She will also bolster research at the National Institutes of Health and research into cancer, including breast cancer, which the Senator has long supported.
Propose legislation to get us to universal health care. Senator Klobuchar will propose legislation that gets us to universal health care, which includes creating a public health care option by expanding either Medicare or Medicaid, as well as improving the Affordable Care Act to help bring down costs to consumers through reinsurance, providing cost-sharing reductions, expanding premium subsidies, and continuing delivery system reform. Her legislation will also provide additional consumer protections and lower the costs of prescription drugs through aggressive reforms including lifting the ban that prohibits Medicare from negotiating the best possible price. These programs significantly reduce cost to consumers and help promote choice.
To pay for these investments Senator Klobuchar will increase the income tax rates for the top two brackets to the rates that were in place before the 2017 Republican tax law, further raise the income tax rate for the highest tax bracket and implement prescription drug reforms.