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Healthcare is a Right

Access to healthcare should not depend on the size of your paycheck. It should be a right for all. But with over 27 million Americans still uninsured, we have work to do. To ensure high quality, universal healthcare access, we must take bold action to make care more affordable while expanding access and improving existing coverage. This can be done by building on the success of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), not dismantling it.

Steve believes we will improve American healthcare by focusing on five core principles:

1. Increase Access to Quality Healthcare

  • Provide a public option to improve access and ensure competition in the marketplace and for those who live in states without Medicaid expansion.
  • Increase subsidies to defray the cost of buying health insurance on the ACA exchange for families whose income is below 400% of the federal poverty level.
  • Automatically enroll families who are Medicaid eligible or eligible for a 100% cost subsidy on the ACA exchange. 
  • End the Trump Administration’s attacks on Obamacare and fully implement the ACA by encouraging all states to expand Medicaid.
  • Continue to protect health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and never again allow lifetime caps on coverage.

2. Make care more affordable

  • Bring down the cost of prescription medicines by negotiating drug prices and taking on the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Bring antitrust enforcement into the 21st century. Fight mergers of giant insurance companies that jack up costs and hurt competition by signing an executive order to increase enforcement against healthcare consolidation.
  • End surprise billing and out-of-network charges.
  • Lower insurance costs by increasing credits and automating enrollment for plans bought on an exchange.
  • Cap out-of-pocket costs so a health emergency doesn’t bankrupt a family.

3. Improve Care in Rural and Underserved Communities

  • Protect and preserve our rural hospitals. Small towns should not lose healthcare because reimbursement rates aren’t competitive.
  • Ensure high quality healthcare is available and affordable in urban and rural areas. Every community should be able to meet their specific healthcare needs and have sufficient providers to meet demand.
  • Protect Title X funding and access high quality reproductive healthcare.

4. Strengthen Medicare

  • Ensure Medicare remains rock solid for current and future beneficiaries. 
  • Strengthen Medicare by negotiating and capping drug costs. As Governor, Steve negotiated lower costs between hospitals and the state insurance plan, leading to significant savings. It’s long past time for the federal government to take similar action to lower drug costs.
  • Rethink traditional payment models to include alternatives that encourage value, not volume.
  • Invest in eliminating the approximately $50 billion in annual improper payments wasted in the Medicare system. 
  • Allow more Americans to buy into Medicare to strengthen the program and reduce costs.

5. Take the Opioid Fight to the Drug Companies and Invest in Community Solutions

  • Steve will hold corporations accountable for negligent sales of opioids.   
  • He will increase funding for state substance abuse grants and incentivize grants that go to the hardest-hit rural areas. 
  • He will also increase investments in “return to work” programs that help those who have struggled with addiction to return to the workforce.

A Record of Accomplishment on Healthcare

  • Steve worked with Republicans and Democrats in the Montana legislature to pass (2015) and reauthorize (2019) Medicaid expansion, providing healthcare for nearly 100,000 Montanans -- dropping the state’s uninsured rate from 20% to below 8%.
  • Made record investments in Montana’s mental health system, expanded crisis intervention and treatment, and doubled the number of Medicaid substance use treatment providers.
  • Invested in suicide prevention efforts for veterans, Native Americans, and youth.
  • Established the nation’s first multi-payer Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) for behavioral health, dramatically increasing access to integrated behavioral health treatment in rural areas.
  • Extended the state’s Employee Assistance Program to all Montana service members.
  • Added autism coverage for all Medicaid-eligible children.
  • Provided prescription drug drop boxes using federal grants.
  • Increased access to telemedicine, helping expand access to quality care in rural and small town communities.
  • Cracked down on companies trying to get kids hooked on vaping.
  • Increase access to behavioral healthcare in jails, local courts and treatment courts, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and detox programs.
  • Provided mental health parity to give equal treatment to physical health, mental health, and substance use disorders in insurance plans.
  • Increased state budgetary support for Native American health services.
  • Made Title X funding a statutory appropriation, ensuring that healthcare wouldn’t be used as a political football by eliminating the constant battle to fund Title X health programs.