Health Care

Before coming to Congress, Senator Ron Wyden was the co-director of the Oregon Gray Panthers, an advocacy organization for older Americans. While there, he worked with Oregon seniors to navigate the health care system in the early days of Medicare and Medicaid, ensure they could find justice when the unscrupulous tried to take advantage, and simply help them get through the challenges of aging in America. His work with these Oregonians fundamentally shaped his public service.

Senator Wyden has long said that if you or a loved one doesn’t have their health, everything else often falls to the wayside. That’s why making health care work better for families has always been his top priority.

As the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, which is responsible for Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, important parts of the individual and employer health insurance markets, and other health matters, Senator Wyden has focused on ensuring all Americans have access to affordable, loophole-free health care that gives them peace of mind.

Protecting Seniors and Strengthening the Medicare Guarantee  

Senator Wyden views Medicare as the backbone of the American health care system. The Medicare guarantee is the ironclad promise of comprehensive, affordable health benefits for seniors. But as medicine and health care evolve, the Medicare guarantee must keep up with the times. That’s why Senator Wyden has been working hard to improve the program to better meet the needs of older Americans with multiple chronic illnesses, to reduce high out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs and other services that can shred family budgets, and to lower costs for seniors and taxpayers by eliminating fraud and waste.

In 2022, under the Inflation Reduction Act, Ron secured provisions that will -- for the first time -- give Medicare the power to negotiate directly with drug companies to lower prescription drug costs. His legislation will also cap monthly out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors and hold Big Pharma accountable for price-gouging seniors at the pharmacy counter.

Defending Medicaid and Health Care for the Most Vulnerable  

It’s often said that the measure of a society is how the most vulnerable among us are cared for. While there is always more to be done, Medicaid serves as a fundamental safety net for Americans who most need health care security. Low-income Americans, the elderly who count on Medicaid to pay for nursing home or home-based care, Americans with disabilities, children, families, and those struggling with a mental health or substance misuse disorder all count on Medicaid’s critical health care to thrive and stay active in their communities. Medicaid’s bedrock of care is a value that needs to be defended and built upon.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is another key way for children and families across the country to receive low-cost, high-quality health care. Over 100,000 kids in Oregon count on CHIP, and in 2017, Wyden worked hard to craft a long-term, bipartisan extension of the program that will give families peace of mind for years to come.

Lowering Premiums and Health Care for All  

The Affordable Care Act was a needed step in the ongoing fight to ensure all Americans have access to affordable, quality health care. It included many changes that Senator Wyden has long championed, from airtight, loophole-free protections for those with pre-existing conditions to flexibility for states who have ideas about how to make their own health care system better. Recently those values have come under attack by those who seem to want to return to the days when health care was reserved for the healthy and the wealthy. People power stopped those efforts in their tracks, but Senator Wyden is committed to going beyond defending the status quo.

Even after the Affordable Care Act became law, it’s clear that we need to build on the successes of the law for families who are still paying too much for health care. That’s why Senator Wyden is fighting to lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs for people no matter how they get their health care. He is working to give states all the resources they need to do health care in a way that’s right for their residents. Through the State Innovation Waivers Senator Wyden authored into the Affordable Care Act, states can pursue their own public option or other transformative changes to deliver health care to all.

Bringing Down the High Cost of Prescription Drugs and Ending the Opioid Epidemic  

Perhaps the dominant health care challenge of our time, prescription drug costs are out of control. From medicines for newborns to the array of pills seniors often need to take for conditions like diabetes and heart disease, the system is broken. Unscrupulous drug companies can set high prices with impunity, shadowy middlemen like pharmacy benefit managers take their cut along the way, and it’s often hard to tell whether the price paid at the pharmacy is what your insurance plan told you it would be. Senator Wyden is fighting to reform the entire drug supply chain so there’s true transparency, fairness and accountability for Americans who just want to stay healthy without going broke.

Senator Wyden is pulling out all the stops to curtail the opioid epidemic that is devastating communities in Oregon and across the country. It’s going to take an all-hands-on-deck approach, from friends, family members, community organizations, health care providers and all levels of government to take on this challenge. Every day, thousands die and thousands more families struggle with the heartbreak of helping a loved one survive the terrible disease of addiction. Senator Wyden has called for a three-pronged approach to addressing this crisis at the federal level: preventing misuse of these powerful opioid pills in the first place, treating those who are suffering from addiction, and using tough enforcement to stop illegal distribution both domestically and abroad.

In 2022, under the Inflation Reduction Act, Ron secured provisions that will, for the first time, allow Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies to lower prescription drug costs for seniors. His legislation will also cap monthly out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors and hold Big Pharma accountable for price-gouging seniors at the pharmacy counter.