Guest post by the Jennifer Lewis for Congress campaign
A Healthy America, A Fair Society, and A Prosperous Economy
There is no cause more important to Jennifer Lewis than helping our citizens lead healthy lives so we can have the freedom to pursue our dreams. Disease does not discriminate: we all face illness at one point or another, and we are all connected in the pursuit of society-wide good health.
As a longtime mental health professional, Jennifer has dedicated her life to public service and her career to helping serve the sick. Jennifer knows that the best way to help people and our economy is to fix our broken health care system and put people first.
Universal Health Care Reflects American Values
What some people, particularly establishment DC politicians, don’t tell citizens is that universal health care is supported by the majority of Americans and that we are paying exorbitant costs for health care for the uninsured already: we pay for it when it costs too much, in emergency rooms and in prisons.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Jennifer Lewis supports a universal health care system that would prevent disease and cut out waste and fraud in both government bureaucracies and private insurance corporations. If we implemented a system of universal health care – as all advanced countries such as England and Israel have – it would save the average American $2,000 per year while guaranteeing coverage and improving health outcomes.
Jennifer believes that health care is a human right and that it’s our moral obligation to create a nation in which nobody gets sick or goes bankrupt from preventable illness. The Affordable Care Act was a historic start, but the insurance and pharmaceutical companies had too much influence over policy. Similarly, Jennifer also supports Senator Kaine’s Medicare X bill that would allow people under the age of 65 the option to buy into Medicare; however, Medicare for All would be better for the country because the Medicare X program would still leave too many Americans uninsured or at risk of going bankrupt should they face a devastating illness.
Jennifer supports establishing a national health insurance system in line with Congressman Ellison’s Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. We need to keep out-of-pocket and prescription drug prices down, reduce premiums, guarantee a high quality of care, and safeguard individuals with pre-existing conditions.
Our veterans deserve our respect, and when they return home, or leave the service, we need to take care of them and provide the tools and resources they need to thrive as civilians. No veteran should suffer from lack of health care or subpar treatment. Jennifer has a wealth of experience serving veterans with homelessness, depression, and PTSD – and these experiences have instilled a drive to serve those who’ve served our nation.
Republicans in Congress, including our current Congressman, Bob Goodlatte, responded to these crises by trying to pass a bill that would have taken away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans. This was wrong. Jennifer Lewis will be a firewall against further efforts to take away health care from hardworking Americans.
In a universal health care system, you will never have to worry about whether you can afford to go to a doctor, and no parent will face that same worry for their children.
Our District Needs Universal Health Care
More than 75,000 friends and family members in Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District suffer from lack of health insurance. This heartbreaking toll includes more than ten thousand children. About 80% of uninsured Virginians live in families that work, but do not earn enough money to afford health care. Virginia is one of the wealthiest states in the country – but we rank in the top ten states in the number of uninsured.
Many more of us suffer from too little care for too much money: while the average household in our district earns $50,000 per year, we as a country spend $10,000 per person per year on health care costs. According to the Virginia Health Care Foundation, “Almost 50 percent of uninsured adult Virginians had an unmet need for care in the last year because of the financial difficulty of paying for health care.”
Our district and adjacent districts have been devastated by the opioid crisis. Augusta and Frederick Counties have been particularly hard hit, with Augusta suffering 33 and Frederick a heartbreaking 39 deaths last year from drug overdoses. But nowhere is immune: there is not a single county in our Commonwealth that has not suffered a death from opioid overdose in the past year. Jennifer knows from firsthand experience the lack of resources at the community level can hamper treatment for routine problems that can spiral into costly and deadly emergencies. She supports increased funding for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, and will hold pharmaceutical companies accountable if they’re prioritizing profits over lives.
The current trend in tobacco and e-cigarette use is also troubling for the future of our country. A recent study showed that advertising of e-cigarettes around Virginia colleges increased by a factor of three in a single year. Virginians have the lowest cigarette taxes and we, as taxpayers, already pay about $375 per person per year for the costs of tobacco addiction. We cannot allow greedy cigarette companies to addict another generation of young people, and we should not be subsidizing multinational cigarette corporations with corporate welfare.
The Republican health care bill that came so close to passing would have taken away health insurance from more than 25,000 people in Virginia’s Sixth. Our Congressman, Bob Goodlatte, voted for this bill. We cannot elect someone who will follow his shameful example.
Health Care for All Makes the United States More Competitive Globally
Health care is the right thing to do both for our fellow citizens and for our economy.
All business owners have to compete globally, and the best way to put more spending money in consumers’ and investors’ pockets is to stop wasting money on health care that doesn’t work.
For one example, we are on the verge of an autonomous vehicle revolution, thanks to taxpayer-funded research at places like the Center for Advanced Automotive Research at Virginia Tech. We will develop the technology, but where will the next-generation cars be made? According to GM, it costs $1,525 more to build a car in the United States than it does in Japan because of our high healthcare costs.
Thankfully, we can pay for this system by closing already-existing loopholes and cutting out waste, fraud and abuse. Permitting Medicare to negotiate drug prices would save an estimated $160 billion over ten years. This commonsense proposal is supported by more than nine in ten Americans, including an overwhelming majority of people from all political backgrounds.
Health care for all would also create good-paying healthcare jobs. In our district, health care is the largest industry. Fifty thousand people in the Sixth District work in health care, four times more people than work in finance and insurance combined. As we transition to a universal health care system that provides affordable care to every American, we will train more people in useful jobs such as doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals.
A universal health care system would best reflect our values as Americans, protect our citizens, and boost our economy.