When I was in junior high, my father had a heart attack. The medical bills piled up, and my mom went to work at Sears answering phones so we could make the mortgage payments. Many families across Massachusetts and around the country have stories like mine. For some, health care problems led to financial problems that pushed them to the brink of the economic cliff and beyond.
Massachusetts has been a leader in health care, but there is still more to do. Today, there are two pressing challenges: too many want to repeal health reforms that will make a big difference in people's lives and the cost of health care remains too high.
We cannot let those who want repeal to succeed. Consider what health care reforms have accomplished:
- Ending the practice of insurance companies denying people with preexisting conditions
- Allowing young people to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26
- Providing tax breaks for small businesses who provide health care
- Preventing insurance discrimination against women
We should not roll back these gains - they are too important for families.
We also must take action to reduce the cost of health care. About half of all families in bankruptcy are there in the aftermath of a serious medical problem, and millions more are under enormous financial pressure when a loved one is ill. Massachusetts has been a leader in developing innovative ways to improve quality while reducing costs, and we are a leader in medical research that can lead to breakthroughs that save both lives and costs. We must do more to lead the way to a more affordable and higher quality system.