This past Tuesday, two U.S. senators and former presidential candidates participated in a televised debate with American health care and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as the topic. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) engaged in a town hall style debate primarily on whether the ACA should be repealed and what could replace it.
The healthcare law often called Obamacare has been the focus of controversy since its implementation in 2010. The Affordable Care Act was designed to lower the uninsured rate and expand insurance coverage with the ultimate goal of reducing the cost of health care. It removed barriers for many Americans with pre-existing conditions and other underserved communities’ access to health insurance. It faced strong opposition by the GOP, saying it would instead increase healthcare costs and disrupt the current insurance markets. The Republican-majority House of Representatives went so far as to vote over 60 times to repeal the law; none of the attempts were successful.
Senator Sanders’ opening remarks highlighted that repealing the ACA would effectively end the coverage of the millions of Americans who are insured because of the law. He went on to say that it is a flawed law that would be improved by a single-payer “Medicare for All” system, which Obamacare acts as a step towards, pointing out that the United States is the only major country on Earth to not guarantee health care to all its people. Senator Cruz pointed to broken promises of the ACA, saying that it increased healthcare costs, made some lose their insurance despite assurances they could “keep their plan if they liked their plan,” and reduced one’s freedom of choice.
Cruz and Sanders found some agreement in believing that less expensive medication should be legally bought from countries such as Canada, though they had differing answers when asked by a nurse practitioner why she is forced to pay a high premium and deductible, ostensibly making the insurance useless. Senator Cruz said U.S. healthcare costs are high because it’s so good, saying Sanders’ idea for single-payer health care is akin to government-rationed health care. Senator Sanders responded by saying that health care is already rationed in the United States except its rationed by income, saying those who need procedures but can’t afford them are forced to go without.
Senator Sanders often said that health care should be a right to all Americans, whereas Cruz would say that “access to healthcare” is a right. Sanders responded by pointing out that “access” means little if the price is beyond a person’s means; everyone has access to buy a mansion, though it is not a reasonable expense for a majority of Americans.
A small business owner asked a question saying that she cannot expand her business beyond 50 employees without being required to pay for their insurance. Senator Sanders was unsympathetic, saying that she should be paying the health insurance for her employees if she breaks the threshold put in place by the ACA. He responded by asking what would happen to an uninsured employee if they got sick; she said she did not know. Senator Cruz agreed with the business owner that Obamacare hurts small business by forcing them to pay for employee benefits, stifling their ability to grow.
We at NeedyMeds prefer to remain apolitical—we work in a diverse office with people of varying backgrounds and views—but we believe those in need deserve care. It should be clear that NeedyMeds supports improved access to care as well as lower costs for medications and healthcare services for all.
The NeedyMeds website has databases of Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs), Diagnosis-Based Assistance (DBAs), and Free/Low-cost/Sliding-scale Clinics to help those in need. The NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card can save users up to 80% off the cash price of prescription medications for those without insurance or choose to use the card instead of insurance. In addition to the plastic card, the card is available in a printable form or a smartphone app for Apple and Android devices. For more help finding information, call our toll-free helpline Monday-Friday 9am-5pm Eastern Time at 1-800-503-6897.