Sen. Sherrod Brown On Health Care: 'I Want To Get To Universal Insurance'

Feb 18, 2019

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the subject of much speculation for the 2020 presidential election, took time to chat with WKSU about some of his priorities, including tax and health care reform.

Legislation Brown is proposing would end the Trump administration’s tax cuts for higher-income Americans – because, Brown says, the tax policy just isn’t trickling down.

“Our legislation’s pretty simple,” Brown says. “It’s all about increasing the earned income tax credit for working families.”

Brown says his legislation would also extend tax credits to students and those caring for others.

“That’s where we want to focus our tax bill and grow the economy from the middle out, not this discredited, ‘Tax cuts for the rich and hope it trickles down,’” Brown said.

Health Insurance

Brown also spoke about insurance access.

“There are still millions of Americans that don’t have that don’t have insurance,” Brown said. “I want to get to universal insurance, I want to help people now. I want to build on the Affordable Care Act, on Obamacare.”

The way to accomplish this, Brown said, is to create an optional, public “Medicare-like program.” However, Brown has declined to endorse the popular progressive platform of "Medicare For All."

“Fundamentally, the biggest problem in health care is it just costs too much for far too many people and they can’t get the kind of insurance and the kind of care they need,” Brown said.

Drug Pricing

Part of the roadblock to care is the cost of prescription medication. Brown says he introduced a bill that would require the health care sector to negotiate the cost of drugs with the drug companies themselves.

“The Veteran’s Administration does that on behalf of 7 million veterans,” Brown said. “It saves immense amounts of money for those veterans and for taxpayers, and for taxpayers. We should do exactly the same thing with Medicare overall.”

Going after drug pricing also means getting rid of advertising deductibility, according to Brown.

As for the issue of pharmaceutical companies outsourcing their production and importing medication, Brown said he finds it “astounding” that materials cannot be sourced.

“They need to be held accountable if there are contaminated ingredients because they can’t trace back their supply chain when they manufacture a drug to be used in Kent or Toledo or Cincinnati or Manchester,” Brown said. “Those companies need to be held responsible, and it’s amazing to me that we have a White House that just doesn’t care about enforcing those rules and enforcing that accountability, so we’re taking drugs that even the companies don’t know where all the ingredients come from.”