U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham (D) and S.C. Rep. Nancy Mace (R) are running for U.S. House of Representatives (1ST Congressional District). The Daniel Island News asked: If you are in Congress come January 2021, how would you address health insurance reform that can meet the many varied needs of South Carolinians — from young adults to growing middle income families to elder folks approaching or in Medicare? Also, with COVID-19 causing many long-lasting health effects, pre-existing conditions have become an even bigger discussion point for voters.
Protect what works, fix what doesn’t
U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham
While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) wasn’t perfect, it expanded health care to 30 million Americans for the first time ever. I believe we should protect what works in the ACA and fix what does not. In the midst of a global pandemic, with more than 210,000
Americans dead and 7.5 million Americans now living with a new pre-existing condition – having had COVID-19 – now is not the time to gut the ACA and rip coverage away from people with pre-existing conditions, as my opponent has proposed, without offering a replacement plan.
For too many South Carolinians, our health care system is unnecessarily complicated, expensive, and in serious need of improvements. That is why I have worked with Democrats and Republicans to tackle these issues head on, passing over a dozen bipartisan bills to lower the cost of prescription drugs and insurance premiums, strengthen coverage, and protect people with pre-existing conditions. My opponent, meanwhile, will likely deny her own record when it comes to health care. She claims that she supports coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, but the truth is she wants to gut the ACA and has no plan to replace it. That’s because she gets her marching orders from her party leaders, who are currently leading the fight to repeal the ACA at the Supreme Court.
We’ve also allowed big pharma to be in the driver’s seat for too long. Americans are routinely forced to pay triple the amount that is charged in other countries for the exact same drugs. The problem has gotten so bad that last year, three in 10 South Carolinians reported having to stop taking medication as prescribed because they could not afford it. I am proud to have passed transformative legislation out of the House that would help level the playing field and lower the price of prescription drugs by giving Medicare the power to negotiate directly with drug companies.
Our plan for health care reform must also address health disparities. Black South Carolinians have disproportionately contracted and died from COVID-19. There are several things we can do in the short-term, including targeting communities of color for testing and ensuring frontline health care providers are able to reach rural, remote, and underserved communities. In the long-term, we must address the underlying conditions that cause these disparities. Reducing the amount of uninsured South Carolinians is a good place to start.
South Carolina has one of the highest uninsured rates in the nation, the second highest medical debt rate in the country, and we are more vulnerable to a public health crisis because of the number of uninsured individuals. We can take simple, commonsense steps to increase health insurance coverage by expanding Medicaid. Right now, South Carolinians’ tax dollars are being used to pay for Medicaid expansion in other states, without receiving any of the benefits. That’s why I introduced the Medicaid REACH Act, which would incentivize states like South Carolina to expand Medicaid.
Lastly, we need to protect earned benefits like Social Security and Medicare. While my opponent supports raising the retirement age and privatizing Social Security, I could not be more opposed to these reckless pursuits that would put our seniors’ hard-earned benefits at risk.
Health care is a right, not a privilege. In the richest country in the world, no American should go bankrupt because they get sick or forgo necessary and preventative treatment for themselves or their family because they cannot afford it. This is the most personal issue facing South Carolinians, and I am committed to continuing to work with Democrats and Republicans to tackle these problems and make healthcare more affordable.
Nix Obamacare for better solution
State Rep. Nancy Mace
During my time in the State House in Columbia, a mother called me to explain that her daughter, who had been diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer, needed to have a double mastectomy to increase her chances of remission. But the insurance company denied her coverage because she didn’t get a genetic test (BRCA) done before her diagnosis.
I promised the mother I would reach out to my contact at the insurance company the next morning to see what I could do. Within hours, I was told that the insurance “re-reviewed the case” and decided to cover it 100% in full.
It should not take calling your state or federal representative to get the coverage you need for a condition you did not ask for.
As someone with a pre-existing condition, I also know how important it is to ensure that no one is denied insurance coverage for their pre-existing condition. I have firsthand experience being denied coverage; I’ve seen my father, a retired Army General, experience similar struggles as he battled Agent Orange within the Veterans Affairs system.
We should not have to jump through hoops to make sure we can get the coverage we all need. Under current law and in proposed reforms, pre-existing conditions are protected. No one wants to leave them behind.
But the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare is not the only way to make sure those with pre-existing conditions or low-income Americans receive coverage. We all remember hearing the promises from the prior administration: “If you like your plan you can keep your plan,” or this one, “if you like your doctor, you could keep them too!”
But promises made, were not promises kept.
Under Obamacare, millions of Americans were kicked off the health care plans that worked best for them because the Marketplace made it unaffordable for many insurance companies to offer those plans or even participate. Premiums skyrocketed. Drug costs went up. And those who opted out of health care altogether still had to pay fees.
Health care as we know it right now, is not sustainable. We need a new plan.
In order to replace Obamacare with a plan that lowers drug costs and healthcare premiums, and also brings choice back to the market, we need to work together – Republicans, Democrats and independents.
That is why I propose nixing Obamacare altogether, in favor of a plan that includes the following:
1. Coverage guarantee for those with pre-existing conditions;
2. An increase in tax credits for Health Savings Account (HSA) holders;
3. Allowance of HSA money to be used to pay premiums;
4. Allowance of the purchase of insurance across state-lines.
5. Allow catastrophic insurance for anyone (not just those under the age of 30 as it is now).
6. Price transparency for all pharmaceuticals and inpatient or outpatient procedures.
Socialized medicine is not the answer. More options for coverage in the market and better use of health care funds is. Let Americans decide what they need and how much they want to pay.
Encourage growth in the market and the innovation of new life-saving cures.
We need more choices, not less. The freedom to make these choices is part of what makes our country great.