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 Tom Steyer 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?
More funding is needed for mental health care. There is a mental health crisis in America; among comparable countries, the U.S. has the highest rate of death from mental health and substance use disorders. While there have been improvements in mental health in recent years, access to providers and affordability still present challenges for almost half of America’s population. As president, mental health would be included in my universal health care plan. The Right to Health, including mental health, would be a top priority for my administration. We would make certain there was adequate funding of at least current levels for mental health services.
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?
Rampant excesses of the pharmaceutical industry have put many life saving medications out of reach for America’s patients. We must utilize the power of the federal government to negotiate lower prices for patients and break the corporate stranglehold that the pharmaceutical companies have on our health care system. We need to have a holistic approach to health and health care; mental health is as important as physical health and we will have parity in my health care proposal.
What do you believe is the biggest health care issue facing Americans? How would you solve it?
The biggest health care issue facing Americans is cost. But if we are going to make health care cheaper, we are going to have to break the stranglehold corporations have over our political system, so you and your doctor, not the drug manufacturer or insurers, can decide what is best for you. To do this, I have proposed providing a public option that uses the negotiating power of the government to dramatically lower costs, including for prescription drugs and premiums. With this option, we can provide quality medical care to millions more families and individuals while allowing Americans to keep their employer-based health care if they want to do so. A public option will expand coverage.
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?
The American people deserve a health care system where everyone has access to quality, affordable and secure health care. I support a universal health care system, including a strong public option that aggressively competes with private insurance companies, drives down costs and expands coverage. As president, I will work to reduce prescription drug costs, increase system accountability, eliminate surprise billing, and put patients and doctors — not the drug manufacturers or insurers — in charge of their health care.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer shares views on current issues