Time for Colleagues to Join Me in Fight for Affordable, Accessible Healthcare

July 26, 2019

Real Clear Politics
Op-Ed: Sen. Rick Scott
July 26, 2019

I recently heard from Claire Goodowens, a 12-year old from Central Florida, who told me about her story – one that’s becoming all too common.

She has Type 1 Diabetes and her family struggles to afford the insulin she needs to keep her alive. Even with insurance, her family pays $1,000 to $1,500 a month for insulin and medical supplies. That’s not sustainable and it’s not acceptable.

The rising costs of prescription drugs is a crisis. And it’s compounding the problem of rising healthcare costs across the board. It’s time for Congress to get off the sidelines.

Last year, Americans spent $3.6 trillion on healthcare, which comes out to about $11,000 per person. We pay the most for prescription drugs, often TRIPLE what other countries pay for the exact same drugs. And the price of insulin, a drug that has been around for decades and is needed by millions of Americans, has DOUBLED since 2012.

We can and we must fix it. Politicians in Washington are too focused on the grand bargain when it comes to healthcare. Grand bargains don’t work. They get filled with pet projects and bloated government bureaucracy and end up creating more problems than they solve (just look at Obamacare). We have to get something done this year to drive down costs and promote more price transparency throughout the healthcare system.

I’m working on a few common-sense solutions to solve a very complex problem.

The first, my America First Drug Pricing Plan, prevents drug companies from charging American consumers more for prescription drugs than the lowest price they charge consumers in other industrialized nations. That’s just common sense. It would also require pharmacies to inform patients what it would cost to purchase drugs out-of-pocket instead of using their insurance and co-pay. If patients choose to pay out-of-pocket, which is often cheaper, the total cost would be applied to their deductible. And finally, my bill would require insurance companies to inform patients of the total costs of their prescription drugs 60 days prior to open enrollment so they can shop around for the best deal.

I also introduced the Protecting Patients from Surprise Medical Bills Act to end the practice of surprise medical billing and the Prescription Drug Price Reporting Act to create a consumer-friendly database of prescription drug prices. Families should have some level of certainty when it comes to their medical costs.

And finally, the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act would force pharmaceutical companies to play fair in a free and competitive market. For years, pharmaceutical companies have been abusing the patent system to prevent competition and force American consumers to pay more for life-saving medicine. That’s wrong and this bill will open the market for more affordable prescription drugs.

Healthcare really has been central to my entire life. I grew up in public housing and my parents struggled for work. My brother had a rare disease and we didn’t have insurance. I watched my mother agonize over his care. Thankfully, she finally found a charity hospital four hours away that we would travel to for his treatment. My story is not unlike that of many Americans, and it’s why I’m so focused on driving down the cost of healthcare, so families like mine growing up can get the care they so desperately need.

As a member of the U.S. Senate, it is my job to protect Floridians every day, and especially in times of crisis. The soaring costs of prescription drugs are hurting Americans, and it is incumbent upon my colleagues in Washington to stand up and fight for what is right.

There are solutions to this problem. I’m working on four that we can and should get done now, and I will not stop fighting until healthcare is affordable and accessible for all Americans.