Opinion: Let's rein in health care costs in 2020
I have knocked thousands of doors over the past several years, and one topic that my neighbors continue to grapple with is the skyrocketing cost of health care and prescription drugs. In fact, on a recent telephone town hall I hosted, I heard from constituents who were frustrated that more wasn’t being done on this important economic issue. It affects every single person I represent, and unfortunately, the dysfunction in Washington, D.C., is only making it worse.
Prescription drug prices have risen more than 200% since 2008 while health and pharmaceutical lobby spending topped nearly $300 million dollars in 2018, more than any other industry. And many patients are also hit in the pocketbook by surprise medical billing that they incur when they have procedures that are totally out of their control. A recent statewide poll found that access to quality affordable health care was the top concern of nearly 80% of the respondents. My constituents are wrestling every day with decisions about whether to refill expensive medications and how to pay off medical debts that were no fault of their own. That’s just not right.
My colleagues and I have started introducing comprehensive solutions that aim to take the burden off of citizens. We propose requiring insurance companies to cap costs of critical items like EpiPens and insulin. Our Health Over Profits for Everyone (HOPE) bill package would also create a consumer protection board that would prevent drug price spikes and require manufacturers to justify why they are increasing prices. It would also limit primary care copays at $5 per visit. It doesn’t make any sense to offer health insurance that includes copays so burdensome that families will never take the steps to access the care they need.
It’s long past due that regular everyday citizens have a fighting chance to receive decent care without breaking their bank accounts. The federal government seems incapable of pushing through real reforms so we at the state level need to step up and approve common sense solutions that will make a real difference in the lives of so many of our friends and neighbors. In 2020, let’s make it a priority to do just that. Fix the damn health care sounds pretty good to me.
State Rep. Laurie Pohutsky, D-Livonia, represents the 19th House District. She serves on the Health Policy Committee.