I have extensive experience and policy positions on healthcare. The far left positions of universal healthcare or Medicare for All do not address the structural problems that face the citizens of the 15th District. We have serious access issues in many of our counties and communities.
What does access mean? Many residents are forced to travels hundreds of miles to see specialists that they can’t find at community and county hospitals. Also, Medicaid isn’t accepted at many healthcare providers.
Many are demanding universal healthcare, but when it passes our district’s residents will still have most of the problems they experience today.
We have to:
- expand educational grants and scholarships for healthcare professions that are in demand
- provide temporary lodging for healthcare professionals to provide care in rural districts on a regular basis
- work to better integrate the various healthcare systems in the 15th.
This won’t be solved with a single talking point.
I also have discussed infrastructure on the campaign website as well as on the trail. We have to think bigger than just roads and bridges, which are in need of a massive overhaul. The lack of broadband access in our communities keeps local businesses from finding new outlets for their products and services. Also, the lack of connectivity is a disincentive for new industry and business for relocating to our district.
The infrastructure involved with water, power generation, and the power grid are all in need of a serious upgrade. These all will create new jobs for the economy of today and tomorrow. Unfunded mandates too often fall on rural communities. For examples, schools are mandated to test for lead but receive no funds to fix any issues found.
The states have been starved of resources from the federal government since the Bush era. In Illinois this is exacerbated by the state’s regressive flat income tax. As a Congressional representative, we should be focused on providing retraining programs for workers left behind by our economy in the last three decades. Also, retooling and expanding both K-12 and higher education to include education, training, and skill-based opportunities for the jobs that are in demand locally and regionally will help stall the brain drain.
This is another area I have extensive experience in managing and policies to move Social Security forward into the 21st Century. Many low income recipients haven’t received a real cost of living increase in a decade.
Just this year there was a 2% increase that was matched with a Medicare premium increase, wiping out the benefit increase. These seniors are strapped for cash and spend most if not all of their earned benefits each month in their communities.
We should expand the program, which will boost local economies.
How do we do that?
Increase the income cap.
Also, those on SSDI and SSI . . . we need to make it easier for them to get back to work without fear of losing their benefits, especially their medical coverage. This will decrease their medical costs, increase their expendable incomes, and help transition them off of the program over time.
Food stamps nearly pay for themselves. For every $1 spent on SNAP it creates $1.76 in economic output. Everyone knows a story of someone abusing SNAP, but we don’t end a good program that feeds people in need because of a few bad apples. The continued decimation of the SNAP program with ever increasing food prices has led to increased food security. This is why many of our students go to school hungry.
Medicaid is a vital program for low-income residents. It’s terribly mismanaged, and because the state doesn’t pay its bills on time, many healthcare providers no longer accept it. We have to fix the administrative problems, decrease the bureaucratic nightmare, and make it easier for healthcare providers to accept Medicaid. Work requirements overburden an already underwater bureaucratic system. Making it easier for those on Medicaid to get back to work should be the objective. The spend-down program is one of the worst programs the state could utilize. It places paperwork burdens on both patient and the state.
We have to do better.
Medicare is an example of a program that saves money, provides healthcare, and is an earned benefit people count on when they become disabled or after they retire. The high cost of prescription drugs is creating problems for the sustainability of Medicare Part D. We have to be able to negotiate with drug companies, including purchasing drugs from reputable sources across our borders and overseas.
Seniors and those living with chronic illness shouldn’t be forced to travel into Mexico or Canada to purchase drugs at a cheaper price than they can get at our own pharmacies.
The Republican tax reform bill blew a massive hole in deficits and debts for the foreseeable future, in the tune of trillions of dollars. The tax cuts for workers and small businesses were great, as these go right back into our local economies. The 14% permanent tax cuts for corporations, however, were fiscally irresponsible and not attached to any guarantees for jobs, wages, and repatriation of overseas money.
The Pentagon is often ignored when it asks for various defense programs to be cut because members of both parties want to keep those jobs in their districts and states. We can repurpose those jobs in innovative ways.
By creating a robust, energized economy that is focused on raising wages, increasing opportunity, and reigning in excessive spending, we can increase revenue and bring the budget back in line. Under President Obama, we were heading in the right direction. Now, we’re back on the wrong track.