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 Michael Bennet 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 funding to close all gaps in mental health care. We have to stop distinguishing between mental health and physical conditions and penalize insurance companies who discriminate against mental health services. Primary care should include mental health screenings and referrals to specialists. Medicare-X, my public option healthcare plan, would cover mental health services and treatment for substance use disorders. We also have to protect Medicaid and Medicare and ensure that those beneficiaries have access to robust mental health services. The Bennet Administration would also bolster loan repayment for mental health providers who practice in rural areas.
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?
The most effective way to lower the cost of prescription drugs is for the federal government to negotiate prices. No one should have to split tablets or go without insulin. In addition, the Bennet Administration will end “pay for delay” and monopolistic tactics that keep affordable generic drugs off the market. We will cap out-of-pocket spending for prescription drugs and require manufacturers to justify price increases and pay penalties when their prices increase faster than inflation. Another measure to reduce drug costs is to implement value-based reimbursement for prescription drugs where pharmaceutical manufacturers are paid based on outcomes.
What do you believe is the biggest health care issue facing Americans? How would you solve it?
Americans are tired of paying month after month into a health care system that doesn’t cover them when they need it. We have to lower the cost of quality health care. My Medicare-X public option healthcare plan will add competition to the market and lower premiums and copays without adding a cent to the federal deficit. We have to take additional measures to increase transparency and lower spending. I led the effort in the Senate to end surprise medical bills.
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?
We should let all Americans make the right healthcare choices for their own families. My Medicare-X plan would allow Americans to choose between a private plan or a public option administered by Medicare. They would have access to the Medicare network and be covered for essential health benefits including maternity care, hospital and emergency services, mental health, and affordable prescription drugs.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bennet shares views on current issues