Since the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, many of the promises made to the American people by the law’s authors have been broken, and it continues to collapse.
Americans were promised that they could keep the doctor and health care plan they liked and that their health insurance premiums would go down. The reality is that millions of people lost the coverage they had and liked, while others discovered they could no longer see the doctor of their choice. Today, premiums on the exchanges are unaffordable, and patients’ choices are limited.
While Congress repealed several of the onerous Obamacare taxes that increase costs on consumers, like the medical device tax and Cadillac tax, which would affect millions of workers enrolled in employer-sponsored health insurance plans, we can and must do better.
I am committed to advancing common-sense, patient-centered health care solutions. We need to focus on solutions that will help make health care more affordable for all Americans. Rather than expand the government’s role in providing health care, I support proposals that would make the private insurance market more competitive and ensure individuals and families have choices when it comes to their health care needs.
I support finding affordable options for the uninsured or those who are priced out of the insurance market. I support expanding and reforming high-risk pools to help all Americans access affordable health care, regardless of pre-existing conditions.
Small Business Health Plans
I hear from many small business owners in South Dakota who want to provide quality health care coverage for their employees, but often cannot afford the high cost of premiums. South Dakota has more than 86,000 small businesses and many South Dakotans who are uninsured work for small businesses. I support allowing individuals and small businesses to band together to purchase more affordable health insurance for their employees.
Medical Liability Laws
I support reforming medical liability laws so doctors can focus on what is best for their patients rather than practicing defensive medicine as a way to protect themselves from frivolous lawsuits. Comprehensive medical liability reform is an important way to lower the cost of health care for all South Dakota families.
Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in Current Health Care Programs
It is imperative that we address the waste, fraud, and abuse currently plaguing the Medicare and Medicaid systems. Combatting fraud in these programs is critical to ensuring they remain sustainable for those who rely on them. According to the Government Accountability Office, in fiscal year 2018, Medicare alone suffered nearly $50 billion in losses due to fraud – an unnecessary cost that was sustained by hard-working taxpayers.
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
Congress should facilitate greater use of HSAs, which are consumer-driven and help participants save for current and future health care needs. There are many ideas for how to expand access to HSAs, such as allowing participants to use HSA funds to pay premiums for high-deductible health plans.
Telehealth and Digital Medicine
As a member of the Senate Rural Health Caucus, I support initiatives to strengthen our rural health care infrastructure. Telehealth is innovative technology that provides real-time information to a health provider from a patient hundreds of miles away using video-conferencing and other technologies. Telehealth can be used to improve patient care by allowing patients to remain in their homes, rather than more expensive care options. It can also be used to connect rural health care providers to specialists for consultation.
Wellness and Prevention
We must change our health care focus to include wellness and prevention. Helping people lead healthier lives is a critical part of controlling the cost of health care for everyone. I support reforms, like my Personal Health Investment Today Act, for example, which would allow individuals with HSAs to utilize their funds for fitness-related expenses. We should also make it easier for employers, insurers, and patients to take action to control the chronic disease and obesity epidemic in our country through incentives that encourage healthier behavior and participation in wellness programs.
High and Rising Drug Costs
The high cost of prescription drugs is one of the most important issues facing South Dakotans and Americans across the country. One in four seniors report difficulty affording their medications, and the stories of patients being forced to ration pills or abandon their prescription at the pharmacy counter are unacceptable. I strongly support finding ways to address the cost of prescription drugs and make meaningful progress toward lowering patients’ out-of-pocket costs by bringing transparency to the opaque drug pricing process, advancing the development of lower-cost generics and biosimilars, and stopping abusive patent practices that harm patients and taxpayers who ultimately foot the bill.
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|6/28/06||Thune: 95 Percent of South Dakota Medicare Beneficiaries Have Prescription Drug Coverage|
|6/13/06||Thune's Telehealth Legislation Included in Rural Health Equity Act|
|5/18/06||Thune Addresses Summit on Improving Native American Health through Telehealth and Emerging Technologies|
|5/12/06||Making Health Care Affordable and Accessible|
|3/14/06||Thune Awarded 2006 Telehealth Leader of the Year Award|
|2/2/06||Thune Praises CMS Decision to Reimburse States for Prescription Drug Startup Costs|
|1/24/06||Thune Calls on CMS to Ensure South Dakota, Pharmacies Receive Fair Compensation for Medicaid/Medicare Part D Transition|
|12/23/05||Senator Thune Made Last Ditch Effort to Keep Wagner Service Unit ER Open|
|12/12/05||Senators Thune and Johnson Fight for Rural Health Care Funding|
|12/5/05||Thune Announces $500,000 Grant for Avera Health|