Access to affordable healthcare coverage is one of the most important challenges facing Ohio’s working people. That’s why when I held public office, my wife Frances and I always paid for our own healthcare—because I believe it is fundamentally unfair that elected officials and their families got coverage when so many of the people I represented could not afford it.
Over the last six years, hundreds of thousands of Ohioans have taken advantage of healthcare offered as a result of the Affordable Care Act. In Ohio, elements of this healthcare expansion took place under a Republican Governor, which is another clear sign of the bipartisan support for these provisions of the ACA. But there is still significantly more work to do and there are still serious problems within our system that need to be fixed. For instance, Americans are paying roughly double what citizens in other countries are paying for the same medicine.
We should always be open to improving on the ACA. We should repeal the Cadillac Tax so that workers aren’t penalized for having high quality plans and make it easier for small businesses to provide health insurance to their employees. Medicare Part D should be allowed to negotiate for better drug prices, just like the Veterans Affairs Agency does. And hospitals that are charging too much need to rein in overhead costs and pass the savings along to patients.
But repealing the ACA altogether would be costly and dangerous. It would take us back to when insurance companies could deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition, charge astronomical prices, make women pay more than men, impose lifetime limits on care, and kick young adults off their parent’s health insurance.
When it comes to women’s health, I believe a woman’s healthcare choices are between a woman and her doctor, not between a woman and her boss. And I believe preventive services, including contraception, should be provided to women with no additional copay. But Senator Portman disagrees. Not only did Senator Portman vote against requiring employers to cover birth control without copays, he actually co-sponsored the law to let your bosses decide whether or not to cover your birth control. His actions would force women and families to pay more for basic healthcare services, take decision-making away from women, and make healthcare more expensive and uncertain for working families.
One of the greatest healthcare challenges facing Ohio and our country is the problem of drug abuse. When you’re from a working class community in Appalachia and worked as a prison psychologist, the horrific impact of drug abuse is no abstraction: it is a very real and very dangerous threat to the people of Ohio. As governor, I went after this problem through both enforcement and treatment. We brought healthcare and public safety officials together to crack down on illegal prescriptions by launching the Ohio Prescription Drug Taskforce, supported local treatment programs through community grants, and worked to educate thousands of Ohioans about the dangers of addiction. In the Senate I will continue to do everything I can to fight against this scourge to our society.