Health

Health

Vaccines:

Vaccines are a necessary part of modern society. Unvaccinated people pose a real risk to everyone else where a particular disease has been wiped out. Vaccines are not 'bad' and do not cause autism -- that whole reporting debacle was found to be entirely made-up by Andrew Wakefield, a former MD who reported the research; he subsequently had his license to practice revoked.  WHO research indicates that 2.5 million deaths are prevented each year due to vaccination.  In developing countries, one in seven deaths among young children could be prevented with the proper use of vaccines.  Because of the relative ease in traveling to all parts of the globe, vaccination is not just a local necessity -- it is a global necessity.  Unvaccinated individuals traveling to a disease-prone area or disease-carrying individuals traveling to an area where a particular virus is not vaccinated for can set off an epidemic, injuring or killing people.  Funding needs to be provided for research, and for distribution of vaccines.

Drug Prices:

Drug pricing could be easily controlled by the Federal government if it chose to do so. It is this way in every other 'modern' country in the world - the government generally negotiates prices with manufacturers.  This is often part of whatever form of national healthcare policy that a given country has.  Research into effective drugs is long, difficult, painstaking work involving many people and a lot of resources, so it is expensive.  However, many of the firms that develop drugs also spend a LOT of money on advertising, and this is another cost that the company will need to recoup in order to make a profit.  And patents and profit are really at the heart of drug development and drug pricing.  People worry that without a profit motive, enterprises such as drug research would see a great reduction.  This is not true.  It is the company that is trying to make huge profits, not the individuals working for the company; the employees want a good job that pays a decent wage with benefits, and will continue to do the work that they enjoy, which in this case is research, even if the company’s profit motive is removed.  Drug prices need to have governmental oversight and need to be brought into a nationalized healthcare program that will mostly take care of the exorbitant rates that are charged by the companies that make them.  If the government were to institute a national healthcare plan, the savings that would be had from drastically reduced administrative costs (anywhere from $200 to $400 Billion) could be partially put into decreasing drug costs.

Obamacare:

Obamacare was a good try at providing affordable healthcare options to more people, but it was too complex and not fully inclusive.  The whole idea of partial national healthcare is never going to work.  It is like only providing education to 1st through 4th graders and maybe 12th grade students, but everyone else need not apply.  Healthcare is only truly ‘affordable’ if you have an endless stream of ready cash to pay for medical expenses.  Most citizens do not have such coffers of readily available funds that they can just throw at problems with no need to be concerned about whether they can still pay for food or housing or a car to get to work.  Therefore, the plan was a nice idea, but it simply is not going to work because it still is income-discriminatory.  The concept of universal healthcare is absolutely feasible since all other countries provide healthcare to their citizens (this is a case where I can say ‘everyone else is doing it’ and not have my mother come back at me with something about if my friends were to jump off a cliff), but only if it actually encompasses everyone.  Obamacare was a first tentative step towards getting the US population more accustomed to the idea of a single-payer government-run healthcare plan.  Congress needs to cooperate, and assure the public that a single-payer healthcare system will work without drastically increasing costs.

Health Care For All:

Healthcare for all citizens of the United States must be made a priority. The U.S. appears, to the rest of the world's industrialized nations who have such a plan, to be a rather backward society.  Healthcare should be a fundamental right of all the citizens of this nation, as it is in every other industrialized country on Earth. Do you want to go bankrupt to pay for your cancer treatment?

The underlying problem: That we are the only modern, industrialized nation on the entire planet that does not provide for the health and well-being of its citizens. This simply cannot continue. It is illogical for anyone to say who is going to live and who is going to die based solely on whether you have money. Because that is what the insurance-based reality of healthcare is in this country right now: If you can't afford to pay a lot of money for insurance, if you can't afford a lot of money for deductibles, if you can't afford to continue paying when the insurance only covers 75 or 80 percent, then you're going to suffer, period. If you don't have money, you don't matter, because Insurance Companies are businesses -- they are in it for the money, just like any other for-profit enterprise, and they'll do whatever they can in order to maximize profits while minimizing costs. This is not rocket science, or sacrilege, or a terrible thing to say, it is basic business economics and operation. I challenge any person in the Congress to stand up to the microphone in the Senate chambers or the House of Representatives and say to everyone that it's perfectly reasonable and OK to have to pay a $10,000 or $20,000 out-of-pocket deductible expenses before the insurance that you're paying through the eye for will cover most things, but not all things. That is going to bankrupt most people; do any of you reading this have that much money ready to go? I don't. So it boils down to a choice: Be sick or broken or both, or have treatment and go bankrupt -- the bank takes your house, your car, and anything else it can get its hand on to cover your debt. These truths as we are living them right now we must hold as self-evident.

I love America, I would not choose to live in any other country. But how can we, how can our representatives in Congress, say that we are the greatest nation on the Earth if a basic human need -- healthcare -- is not being provided for everyone equally?  Is it not stated in one of the greatest political documents ever written -- Our Declaration of Independence -- that, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  We cannot have 'Life' be an unalienable right if we do not uphold and enforce that self-evident truth. How can we continue to espouse that 'Life' is an unalienable right while at the same time refusing to force our elected representatives to ensure it actually comes to pass? Are we really OK with providing health services only to those who can afford it? Are we OK with saying that because you are old, or sick, or poor, or rural, that you do not deserve the right to 'Life'? No.

We, the Democratic Party, must now grab hold of this most fantastic opportunity in order to sit down and really thoroughly investigate a long-term SOLUTION to the problem of providing healthcare to all Americans. This chance to step up to the plate and hit a home-run will not come again for a long time; regret is a terrible thing, and it would be truly sad if the Party leadership and all of the other Democrats did not take the time they have been given in order to plan, propose, and prove that they have a real, honest-to-goodness fair offer ready to sell to the other members of Congress and the American people. This is our time to shine, to stand out, to prove that we are the party of the people, by the people, and for the people. I have ideas about how to accomplish this. While the technical details and start-up implementation are something that will take time to work out, the plan itself is not a difficult one to envision, and it will work, because it works everywhere else, in every other country, for every other person, and those governments have not gone belly-up.  If we're going to be calling ourselves the Greatest Nation on earth, we had better live up to it, and providing healthcare to every one of our citizens is a requirement that is absolutely non-negotiable. I am ready to work with whomever I can in the government to make this a reality, so that you and I and the people we care about will not have to suffer needlessly just because they can't afford to go to the doctor.  I will not stand for this kind of poor leadership and inability to focus on the big picture.  As your Representative, I will make your voices heard, I will stand tall and make the unalienable right to 'Life' an absolute necessity for everyone in this District, everyone in Minnesota, and everyone in our nation.  I will fight for your "...unalienable right to Life..." for as long as it takes to make it a reality for everyone.

Medicaid Expansion:

The expansion of Medicaid has been of great benefit to those who live in states that accepted the Federal government's offer of increased subsidies for those choosing to implement the plan.  Why some states, mainly those with populations who would have benefitted from this expansion, chose to not participate is beyond rational understanding.  Why we feel in this country that access to healthcare and access to education should be based on whether or not you can pay for it makes no sense -- those two topics should be a basic right, not determined by income.  As a leader, I certainly would want to ensure that the people I represent are healthy and educated; why would I approve of a large segment of the population being sick and ignorant?  Again, that makes no sense, either logically or economically.  Medicaid expansion is a first step toward a single-payer healthcare system, which this country desperately needs.  I support creation of policies and legislation that provide healthcare to all of our nation’s citizens.

Drug Addiction:

Drug addiction is a brain disorder. It can be treated with behavioral therapy, medication, or both. Drug addiction requires healthcare options in order to be accessible to those who require it.   Addiction, whether it takes the form of drugs, food, gambling, sex, shopping, or alcohol, forces a high toll onto not only the individual but society as a whole.  Negative effects of the drug, healthcare costs, long-term difficulties, decreased cognitive ability, loss of productivity/income all play a role in the need to help individuals that engage in unregulated addictive behavior.  Continuing research into the chemical and genetic pathways of addiction along with investigation of drugs and methods to combat addiction are ongoing and will require funding to be provided for organizations and individuals performing that work.

Medical Marijuana:

When properly regulated and correctly prescribed by trained physicians, the use of marijuana for medical purposes should have the ability to be prescribed following the same stringent guidelines used when dispensing other potent drugs, especially when other drugs used to treat the condition in question do not work.  Continued studies into its effectiveness in treating various disorders and conditions, along with investigation of potential side-effects should be undertaken.  A major difficulty in assessing the effectiveness of marijuana comes from the plant itself:  There are more than 400 chemicals in a typical cannabis plant of which roughly 70 are cannabinoids.  As a comparison, most government-approved medications have only 1 or 2 of the active chemicals, making them much easier to study.  Delta-9 THC is the most active drug in cannabis; like many other potent drugs, it can be given in various forms -- smoking it is not necessary.  Because it is simply a chemical, it can be refined, regulated, and prescribed in a consistent manner the same as any other drug that is manufactured for specific uses.  As long as it is dealt with appropriately, there should be no reason that it could not be used for medical purposes.

Mental Health:

The mental health of our citizens afflicted with a disorder affects family members, friends, and can also affect society at large.  According to the US Surgeon General (1999), mental health is the successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and providing the ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity.  Mental illness then refers to all mental disorders that can be diagnoses by a physician.  Mental health needs to be taken seriously, and parents are the first line of defense in this regard:  The need to remain observant of the behavior of children and noting anything unusual or our of the ordinary.  Children’s brains are still developing, so diagnosing and beginning treatment early will greatly help diminish any negative effects of the illness.  Mental illness is more common than cancer, diabetes, or heart disease, with 26% of all Americans over the age of 18 meeting the criteria for a mental illness.  Mental illness can have negative impacts on a person’s ability to live a long and fruitful life, can damage self-esteem, hurt relationships, and degrade their ability to function in every-day life.  Mental illness can also give rise to poor physical health, and can also lead to fighting, substance abuse, vandalism, and other socially unacceptable behaviors.  Persons with some types of mental health issues can cause highly negative consequences when easy access to guns is added to the equation.  There are many treatment options, including activity, expressive, group, and psychotherapies, biofeedback, meditation, spiritualism, and various medications either alone or with one or more of the above avenues.  Mental health is a very important social issue that must be addressed in a fair, non-judgmental manner by qualified professionals who then have the support of the people who interact with the individual requiring help.  Impacts to the economy from mental illness is great, therefore providing a proper amount of funding for research and treatment is important for everyone in a given society.