I support the Affordable Care Act as a first step to put patients in charge of their health care decisions and put the brakes on runaway health care costs that were crippling patients and businesses. I am proud that millions of children can now stay on family insurance policies until they are 26, that millions of small businesses are eligible for tax credits to help them purchase insurance for their employees, that millions of seniors are receiving free preventive care and lower prescription drug prices, and that key protections are in place to stop insurance companies denying care to those with pre-existing conditions and from abusing their customers.
Going forward, we have to do more to bring down health care costs while improving the quality of care. The experience of other nations shows that it can be done. We can bring costs down by promoting preventive care, using technology such as electronic health records, paying health care providers by patient outcomes rather than just the number of procedures and looking at novel ways to reduce defensive medicine and high malpractice premiums without taking rights away from patients. Virginia has pursued some of these strategies in recent years and we have seen them result in a declining infant mortality rate, lower rates of teen pregnancy and a reduction in smoking across all age groups.
As Governor, I championed a number of initiatives that improved the overall health of our Commonwealth. I worked with Republicans and Democrats in Virginia’s legislature to ban smoking in restaurants, bars and state buildings. In addition, we made significant reforms to the state’s mental health care system and expanded education programs for nurses and other health care professionals.