Health Care Costs
Reining in out-of-control healthcare expenses is one of my top priorities. Between rising premiums and skyrocketing prescription drug costs, Utahns are finding it increasingly difficult to receive necessary medicine and care. That is why I’m pushing for more transparency, accountability, innovation, and alignment of health care providers incentives so that savings are delivered directly to consumers.
I support developing a federal-state partnership for health care that gives states flexibility with their Medicaid funding to implement local and personal systems of caring for their residents.
On out-of-pocket costs and premiums, I support restructuring our current rebate system so that individuals can benefit from the discounts manufacturers and middlemen negotiate behind closed doors. I also support expanding the scope of qualifying health savings account expenses, so that they can apply to premiums and direct primary care costs. I have introduced a bill to add transparency and lower out-of-pocket costs by requiring insurance companies to include any rebates in the prices they charge the consumer at the pharmacy counter. This way, even in an overly complex prescription drug market, the patient can benefit from lower costs.=
On drug prices, American consumers should not shoulder the world’s costs of research and development in new drugs. We should be looking at other nations’ drug prices as a benchmark for our own, either through trade agreements or legislative action.
With more than one quarter of high school students and 10.5 percent of middle schoolers vaping, we must take decisive action to protect a new generation from addiction and serious health risks. Flavored products are luring kids into a lifetime of addiction—some children as young as ten years old.
As a member of the Senate HELP Committee, I will continue to push the Administration and Congress to act to reverse this deadly trend. I introduced the Ending New Nicotine Dependencies (ENND) Act, which permanently bans flavors, ensures vaping cartridges are tamper-proof, and funds a robust public education campaign by applying the existing tobacco excise tax to e-cigarettes.
Congress should also pass the Smoke-Free Schools Act, a bill I’m cosponsoring that would update the existing ban on tobacco use in schools and childcare facilities to include vaping and e-cigarette use. On December 20, the President signed into law Tobacco 21 legislation, which I helped introduce, to raise the federal minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 years of age.
In addition to legislative efforts, it’s important that the Administration work with relevant agencies and offices, including the FDA and the Center for Tobacco Products. In White House meetings and Senate hearings, I have repeatedly pushed the President, the FDA commissioner, industry stakeholders, and health experts to move forward with a ban on flavors and take other necessary actions to reduce youth vaping.
To combat the opioid crisis, a multi-front approach is needed. On the supply front, we must pressure Mexico, China, and other countries to curtail the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S. and establish better detection at our border. We also have to stop drug companies from promoting opioids to physicians, make it easier for law enforcement to shut down “drug mills” that fill obviously false prescriptions, and establish a federal database to identify multiple prescribers and abusers across state lines. On the demand front, we must find ways to provide counseling and treatment for those who want to escape drug addictions and assure that first responders are equipped with medications to prevent overdose deaths.