Health Care Policy
My father was a doctor here in the Lowcountry. He was passionate about caring for his patients and improving health care for all.
As the Medical University of South Carolina’s first vice president of Academic Affairs, he helped to train the next generation of physicians. His work has been called “transformative” and a “model” for MUSC even today. He is credited for helping MUSC become the “diverse, first-rate academic medical center it is today.”I’m just as proud that when a volatile and racially divisive worker’s strike took place at MUSC during the height of the nation’s civil rights movement, my father stepped into the fray and helped to negotiate a peaceful resolution.
The James W. Colbert Education Center and Library at MUSC is named in his honor. In Congress, I hope to honor my father’s legacy and his commitment to innovation, teaching and high-quality care.
We have excellent health care in America. Thanks to decades of research, investment and hard work we have the finest providers and hospitals and most advanced technologies and medicines in the world. Here in the 1st District, our exceptional hospitals and providers are a draw for new residents and businesses.
I’m very grateful for our first-rate system because if someone you love is sick or injured nothing matters more than making sure that they get the care they need to feel well again.
But our health care system is far from perfect. It’s outrageously costly and frustratingly complex. Hardworking families and businesses are struggling with bigger and bigger bills, and rising costs are consuming federal and state budgets.
The system is frustrating to patients, providers and businesses. Patients face a maze of insurance rules. Doctors face a mountain of paperwork. Businesses face complex regulations. Too much time, money and talent are wasted. On top of that, there’s abuse and fraud.
The debate in Washington has been just as frustrating because too often it’s just about politics. Everyone is either all for the Affordable Care Act or all against it.
It’s time to be practical and not political. I believe there are good and bad provisions in the new law and that more needs to be done. I will work with patients, providers, hospitals and businesses in the 1st District to implement what works and fix what doesn’t.
I support covering everyone, without regard to pre-existing conditions or gender. I support allowing a parent to carry a child up to 26 years of age on their policy and giving Americans the security of knowing they won’t lose coverage if they change jobs or are laid off. And because of the law’s Medicare provisions, hundreds of thousands of South Carolina seniors have received free preventative care and together saved nearly $70 million dollars on the cost of prescription drugs since the law was enacted.
But we can do more. We must rein in the costs to our families, businesses and taxpayers. We can do more to root out waste and fraud, to promote preventative care, and to use electronic records to cut red tape.
One appalling example of waste can be found in our Medicare program. Today, Medicare is prohibited from negotiating lower prices from drug companies. That means that 35 million seniors pay inflated prices for their prescriptions.
Why? Because in 2003 the drug companies lobbied Congress and President Bush to enact a law that prohibits Medicare from negotiating lower prices, and they did. It costs us $24 billion every year. The drug companies and their lobbyists won and seniors and the taxpayers lost. The benefits aren’t better; they’re just more expensive.
And there is more: The Government Accountability Office, a non-partisan agency that serves as the government’s internal watchdog, estimates that the Medicare program makes $44 billion in improper payments each year, most of which are overpayments. Every dollar we save is one more dollar toward quality care and financial solvency.
One way or another we pay the cost of health care, whether it is through state and federal programs or through higher emergency room costs or higher insurance. Our goal should be an efficient system that provides high quality care to all who need it.