ACCESSIBLE HEALTHCARE FOR ALL

I want every Iowan to have quality healthcare at affordable prices.

When it comes to staying healthy, many Iowans don't have much input. They're bound to insurance providers who dictate medical necessity and costs, employers who determine their coverage and pharmaceutical companies that raise life-saving drugs to unattainable prices.

Too often, patients are forced to forego vital treatments to avoid medical debt, despite paying high premiums for insurance. And if a person does have good coverage, it could be swept out from under them if they lose their job or their employer decides to make changes. In many areas, just getting in to see a doctor is a challenge, as providers are stretched thin.

These limitations are incredibly damaging to population health and federal spending. A large body of research shows that affordable healthcare initiatives, such as a single-payer system, could yield significant savings for taxpayers. The Affordable Care Act has already delivered, reducing costs for hospitals, improving financial security for patients and improving a wide range of health outcomes.

Everyone deserves to live a healthy life — not just the rich. If elected to Iowa Senate District 47, I will fight to improve access, especially for mental health and maternal health, and expand affordable healthcare initiatives to put patients and providers back in control.

Dr. Figaro writing on a clipboard

Dr. Figaro wants to give Iowa a clean bill of health.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Learn more about Dr. Figaro's experiences with healthcare access during her work in Senate District 47 in Iowa.

Diabetes Drugs Need to be Affordable to Save Our Neighbors' Lives

Published on March 30, 2022, in the North Scott Press

Friends and neighbors with diabetes need our help. Currently, state law doesn’t limit what insurance companies doing business in Iowa can charge for insulin to treat diabetes. Since 2005, several classes of drugs have been approved by the FDA. They help control blood sugars, lower heart failure, and related deaths, and reduce severe renal disease and dialysis. Unfortunately, there is a sizable gap between these blockbuster drugs and lackluster patient outcomes. The gap between good drugs and bad patient outcomes results from insurers’ tight grip on their drug formularies. Insulin-dependent people often have to navigate frustrating formularies, buy insulin over the counter, or pay hundreds of dollars per week because insurance will not provide affordable life-sustaining medications. One patient was sold an insurance product that did not contain options for any modern insulin he used. Another was summarily fired from a job at which he was doing wonders when the first big insulin bill appeared on the small company’s insurance balance sheet. My sympathy for small businesses is great. My sympathy for diabetic patients is greater. Patients shouldn’t have to work around insurance to afford meds their lives depend on. This problem now affects many middle-class people and families. Overall, this is more of our neighbors, who can’t sustain the incredible burdens of expensive diabetes medications. These meds can only improve the quality of life if they are affordable for the people who need them. Dr. Mary Kathleen Figaro (Dr. Figaro is a Democratic candidate for the Iowa State Senate, District 47.)

Mental Healthcare Hard to Find in Iowa

Published on July 9, 2022, in the Quad-City Times

It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to see a troubling trend. Whether formally diagnosed or unaware, young and old are suffering higher rates of mental illness. According to the CDC, Iowa has the sixth highest rate of serious mental illness in the country and ranked dead last in treatment openings available per capita. My patient who lost employment during this economic downturn began to suffer worse depression. The Republican majority shortened unemployment period to 16 weeks from 26, meaning he has less time to recover and find similar employment, especially with a seasonal job, Iowa’s winter cuts short such jobs. Republican leaders often paint people with mental disorders as criminals who endanger public health. The truth is people with mental illness are more often victims of violence than perpetrators. Major psychotic illnesses, mood disorders and anxiety are more common over the past 2 years as socio-emotional health has been battered. A scarcity of mental health professionals (MHP) in Iowa leaves patients scared, alone, and out of options. Personalized treatment plans are crucial but less likely with less MHP. After our representatives failed to stand up for those suffering mental illness during last legislative session, resources remain dangerously low. I intend to make improving mental health a priority for our state. We must insist our representatives fight for better mental health for Iowa. As your next state Senator, I’ll fight for increased mental health options and care both inpatient and outpatient for our neighbors.