Senator Heitkamp believes everyone should have access to affordable, quality health care. In 2000, Senator Heitkamp was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a terrifying experience, but she was fortunate because she had good health insurance so she could afford the care she needed. But too many families aren’t so lucky. That’s why Senator Heitkamp is fighting to make sure families get the care they deserve. She’s also working to reduce the cost of health care throughout the country, which puts a strain on the national budget as well as families’ pocketbooks.
Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act in March 2010, more than 48 million Americans lacked health insurance, and insurance companies discriminated against millions of Americans each year simply because they had pre-existing conditions. The health reform law helps those without insurance purchase coverage and the law’s consumer protections have important implications for North Dakotans who already have health insurance. The Affordable Care Act also aims to slow growing costs throughout the health care system, and protects and strengthens the Medicare program.
With any major legislation, there are improvements that need to be made so that it works as well as possible, and that holds true for the health care reform law. That’s why Senator Heitkamp is committed to making reasonable reforms to pieces of the law so it works better for families and businesses across the country, including many of which she proposed. After hearing from North Dakotas about the challenges they faced, Senator Heitkamp joined five other U.S. senators to introduce a series of commonsense proposals that take the next steps toward making the Affordable Care Act work better for individuals, families, and small businesses. Senator Heitkamp remains committed to correcting the parts of the health care reform law that do not make sense, improve on others, and implement new ideas that can further control health care costs and improve quality.
Senator Heitkamp believes Americans cannot afford to lose important provisions of the law that allow young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they are 26 years old, close the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole,” and provide tax credits to middle-class families to help them purchase coverage. Click here for more information on how law may impact you and your family.
North Dakota’s rural landscape presents a distinct challenge to providing health care, and health providers rise to the challenge by providing high quality, low cost care. Often times, a local hospital or clinic drives the backbone of the economy of many of the state’s small communities. Various payment models, such as the critical access hospital program and the frontier provision included in the Affordable Care Act, make sure providers in remote and rural regions are compensated fairly. As co-chair of the Rural Health Caucus, Senator Heitkamp is committed to advocating for rural health issues and protecting safety net health providers by working with top federal officials, local providers, and everyone in between. Following Senator Heitkamp’s call to give greater attention to the needs of rural health care, the Administration created the Rural Health Council that will give rural communities a stronger voice on the federal rules and regulations that impact them.
Mental and Behavioral Health
Senator Heitkamp is a staunch advocate for making sure North Dakotans have access to quality mental and behavioral health care – especially in rural and Native American communities. She has pushed for increased federal funding to make sure that local community health centers have the resources they need to provide services and care and for important provisions that will help students, families and communities more easily access mental and behavioral health care and services.
Medicare and Medicaid
The Medicare and Medicaid programs have played important roles in the lives of seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income American families for almost 50 years. More than 60,000 North Dakotans count on Medicaid, and more than 112,000 North Dakota seniors rely on Medicare, to help pay for visits to the doctor and purchase prescription drugs.
Senator Heitkamp believes that while we need to make reforms to these programs to keep the systems sustainable for the long term and make sure they can continue to provide seniors and some of the most vulnerable with access to quality health care, we should not do so in a way that avoids jeopardy access to critical health care. Senator Heitkamp supports stronger and more robust Medicare and Medicaid programs that are responsive to the needs of seniors and low-income individuals in rural areas.