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 John Delaney 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 increase support for mental health care. The first step is to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for mental health care, which are currently far below the cost of providing care. I will require mental health parity so all insurance plans feature the same coverage for mental health needs as they do for physical health. Mental health parity will also be an essential component of my BetterCare universal health care plan. I will increase the number of mental health providers available to serve at-risk populations, including in schools and correctional facilities, as well as telehealth options for rural populations.
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?
I would allow the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices for Medicare and for my BetterCare universal health care plan, and I would impose an excise tax on pharmaceutical companies equal to 100 percent of the price difference between drugs in the U.S. and the same drugs in other countries with similarly-developed economies. This would lower costs for all Americans and ensure that we don’t pay more for the same drugs.
What do you believe is the biggest health care issue facing Americans? How would you solve it?
The biggest problem in the American health care system is that we spend more on health care as a percentage of GDP than any other high income country but we still don’t have universal coverage. In fact, under the Trump administration, the uninsured rate has gone up. My BetterCare plan will achieve true universal coverage by giving every American a free government health care plan as a right, while still preserving choice and not outlawing private insurance.
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 universal health care for all Americans and I have proposed my plan, BetterCare, which automatically enrolls Americans in a free health care plan at birth but allows for people to opt-out and buy private insurance if they wish. I believe a mixed model, like BetterCare, is better for access and quality health care than a single payer health care system. The government pays less than the cost of care so if the entire system relied on government reimbursement rates, hospitals and other health care providers could be at risk of closure.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney shares views on current issues