Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for office address ahead of November’s general election. Based on the input we received, we developed a five-item questionnaire for candidates running for the open U.S. Senate seat in Kansas.
We’ll be publishing the candidates’ responses to one item per day, each day this week. Today we’re publishing the candidates’ responses to item #4:
The United States currently spends more per capita on health care costs than any developed country — yet our citizens’ health outcomes continue to lag, with rates of obesity and chronic disease much higher than our peers. What does the U.S. need to do to lower its health care spending and improve health care outcomes for its residents? Should universal health insurance be a priority and, if so, what form should that take?
ROGER MARSHALL (REPUBLICAN)
I believe there are three pillars for lowering the cost of healthcare while improving outcomes: transparency, consumerism and innovation. As a rural physician for nearly three decades and now a member of the Congressional Doc Caucus and Republican Study Committee’s Healthcare Task Force, I have always prioritized providing better care for people with pre-existing conditions while lowering the cost of healthcare for all Americans.
We must be more transparent in our records and expenditures. I want patients to own their own medical record. If you can securely access your banking information on your phone, I’m confident we can do the same for medical records.This will help you walk into any doctor’s office and provide your full medical history. And if patients are allowed to know the real price of a procedure or prescription, I am confident Americans will make informed decisions that will help increase competition and drive down the price of care.
This transparency will allow patients to again become consumers of their healthcare. I want patients to be able to choose their physician, determine where they have a surgery or MRI done and compare the price of a prescription from multiple pharmacies.
And we must allow for greater innovation in our health care industry. Government control and overregulation will only stifle innovation and increase costs. We have seen significant medical advances of the past 30 years and as we have witnessed with our response to the COVID-19 virus, it takes research and expertise from all parts of the healthcare industry to meet the needs of patients.
BARBARA BOLLIER (DEMOCRAT)
I believe everyone deserves healthcare, no matter their income or where they live. That’s why I’ve been fighting to expand Kancare for years. We must expand it to bring access to affordable health care to 150,000 more working families and veterans, help protect rural hospitals from closing, and inject millions that taxpayers have sent to Washington back into our state’s economy.
Now more than ever, we need to improve everyone’s access to quality, affordable care. And I will continue to work with both parties to find reasonable solutions to achieve this. For example, I’ll support efforts to incentivize Medicaid expansion in the states that haven’t expanded yet — like Kansas — creating a public option in order to ensure accessible and affordable health care for all Americans even if they lose their job, while ensuring that Americans who are happy with their employer-based healthcare can keep it. I do not support mandating Medicare for All.
Additionally, I support allowing Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to bring down prices. We all know healthcare is too expensive and often difficult to access and this would be a good step forward in driving down the cost of prescription drugs.
Sadly, my opponent has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, opposes expanding Medicaid in the middle of a pandemic, and voted against a bipartisan effort to reduce prescription drug costs. That’s putting partisan politics above the needs of hardworking Kansans.