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The Politics of Women's Health

National Health Care: Interview with Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton

Q&A with Hillary Rodham Clinton

Discuss Clinton's health care plan at Our Bodies, Our Blog

Our Bodies Ourselves: One in four nursing home workers and more than two in five home care workers lack health insurance coverage.  Most of these workers are women, and most receive very low pay, often the minimum wage.  How will your plan ensure adequate coverage with only token out-of-pocket expenses, since these women have no disposable income and often cannot even meet basic living expenses?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: It is unconscionable that our health care professionals often are unable to receive even a fraction of the quality care they provide on a daily basis. I have met with nursing home workers and know how difficult their workload is. These women work incredibly hard; they deserve the same care they work so hard to provide. 

But the problem is not limited to any one profession or any one group. There are 47 million Americans who are forced into health care of last resort, who cannot afford even the most basic insurance. Approximately one in seven women is uninsured and, everyday, mothers all over the country worry about the health of 8.7 million children.

Under my plan, women will receive a refundable, income-contingent tax credit that ensures that they will never have to decide between paying their health premiums and providing for their children's basic needs. Right now, uninsured Americans are bearing a heavy burden in this country. It's time we came together and started living up to our values it's time we made sure every American had access to health care as a basic right.

OBOS: As we all know, cost-containment measures are key to any health care plan that provides both meaningful universal coverage and acceptable strategies for funding such universal coverage. Expenditures for drugs and biologics have skyrocketed in large part because of the exorbitant prices that drug companies are allowed to charge, now even in the Medicare program. How will your plan bring down such prices, so that we are more in line with other industrialized countries that do regulate drug prices more effectively?

HRC: Our health care system is in crisis today partially because the system shifts costs rather than acting to contain them: rather than reducing prices, the system raises families' costs. 

Drug prices in particular are making it difficult for American families Americans pay the highest prices in the world for drugs. In the last decade, prescription drugs accounted for 15 percent of the total increase in health spending, despite the fact that they account for only about 10 percent of all health costs.

My plan will tackle these drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices; creating a pathway for biogeneric drug competition; removing barriers to generic competition; and providing more oversight of pharmaceutical companies' financial relationships with providers.

OBOS: Health care expenditures now account for nearly half of all personal bankruptcies. Because co-pays, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket expenses make it impossible for so many women to get the care they need, especially when they have to allocate limited financial resources for their children's care, it is critical that any new health care plan eliminate such barriers to care. How does your plan accomplish this?

HRC: The tragedy of our system today is that in the absence of affordable preventive care, so many Americans are forced to delay treatment until their health has reached a crisis point, and individuals in high-deductible plans are twice as likely to delay or avoid needed care due to costs. 

Over the last several years, health care premiums have skyrocketed in fact, premium costs have nearly doubled since 2000. My plan will ensure that securing quality health care is never a crushing burden for any working family. This guarantee will be achieved through a premium affordability tax credit that ensures that health premiums will never rise above a certain percentage of family income. The tax credit will be indexed over time, and designed to maintain consumer price consciousness in choosing health plans, even for those who reach the percentage of income limit. 

OBOS: Increasingly, women have less access to mental health services. This can lead to women being prescribed inappropriate psychotropic drugs when therapy and other services would be appropriate. Does your plan allow for mental health parity, so that medication therapy is not privileged over talk therapy?

HRC: Major depression and dysthymia, a type of mood disorder, affect twice as many women as men, regardless of racial and ethic background or economic status. Our health care needs to recognize the need for a diversity of treatments that can help them to overcome their mental health challenges.

My plan will offer all women an array of options under the new Health Choices Menu, which provides the high quality care that Members of Congress receive. These choices will include mental health parity and will cover mental health care services to the same extent that they cover physical illnesses.

End of Interview

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