We asked presidential candidates questions about a variety of issues facing the country. Their answers will be published over the coming weeks. This is what Democratic candidate Marianne Williamson had to say about health care.
Is more funding needed for mental health care in America? If yes, what amount and how should it be allocated? Where should that money come from?
We need to provide more mental health services — and ask why so many need them. Many policies contribute to despair and isolation. We need to realign policies with a moral vision: that every policy helps people thrive. A massive infusion of economic hope and opportunity will uplift the psychological conditions of millions. Additionally, we need more funding for community health centers. Money comes from repealing tax cuts to the wealthiest and negotiating drug prices. People deserve needed treatment, but this should not be a giveaway to pharmaceuticals to treat every condition with drugs.
How would you address rising prescription drug costs, specifically for medications that are necessary for people to live, such as insulin and mental health medications?
Pharmaceuticals use patents developed with U.S. taxpayer funds, then charge Americans 3 to 15 times more than other countries for the medicine. Americans are dying because they can't afford the medicine. I would take back the ability for government to negotiate prices with pharmaceuticals. I would use the “march-in rights” under the Bayh-Dole Act that allows government to ignore the exclusivity of a patent developed with public funding, and license the patent to another party (that) charges less for medicine. It’s a safeguard for when drugs are not put on the market, or are on with unreasonable terms.
What do you believe is the biggest health care issue facing Americans? How would you solve it?
The biggest health care issue is that Americans are eating toxic food, drinking contaminated water, and breathing toxic air that make them sick. Industry deregulation has left consumers insufficiently protected. Key policies have been gutted — for example, the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts. Agencies like the Food and Drug Administration are too cozy with the industries they are supposed to regulate. I would restore the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, and appoint strong leaders independent of the industries they oversee to run agencies such as the FDA and the EPA.
Do you support a public health insurance option for all Americans? If yes, do you support the elimination of private health care in favor of a government-run plan, or do you support an option where Americans can choose a public or private plan? If no, why?
Yes, I support a public health insurance option for all Americans, by making Medicare available to all who want it. I support the right of Americans to choose a public or private plan. There are about 160 million Americans currently on a private health plan. Those who wish to keep it should be allowed to do so.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson shares views on current issues