In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed to provide access to affordable and quality health care to Americans. While not perfect, the ACA provides millions of Americans with access to health care and prohibits those with pre-existing coverage from being denied care. It also provides consumers with essential health benefits that must be covered by insurance companies, including critical services like mental health and maternity care. Unfortunately, since taking control of Congress, the Republicans have attacked the ACA and have been determined to strip health protections provided under the ACA.
For example, the Trump Administration denied funding for the cost sharing reductions to health insurers provided under the ACA that has allowed insurers to keep premiums down. Without these payments, many Americans will see their premiums rise. Republicans also repealed the provision of the ACA that provided for the responsibility of individuals to obtain health insurance, without this mandate, many individuals, mostly younger and healthier, will forgo insurance which in turn could drive up costs. The GOP has also made it easier for health insurers to offer very narrow insurance plans that do not cover essential health benefits.
In addition to rolling back protections under the ACA, since taking control of Congress and the White House, Republicans have proposed policies that attack women’s health, as well as Medicaid. For example, the Administration has allowed for employers to opt out of offering coverage that includes birth control and has continuously proposed to eliminate funding for critical family planning centers like Planned Parenthood. In every budget proposal, Republicans have planned to turn Medicaid into a block grant program and opened the door for states to put extreme restrictions on Medicaid beneficiaries, including work requirements. Both proposals mean less coverage for the most vulnerable. They have also used critical federal health programs, like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Community Health Centers, as political bargaining chips in budget discussions.
I vow to continue to fight against Republican efforts to repeal the ACA and restructure Medicaid. I also pledge to continue being an advocate for women’s health and programs that support our most vulnerable populations such as Community Health Services. It is important that these critical programs and continued lifesaving medical research receive the funding they need to ensure the health and wellbeing of communities like the 8th District. I am proud to have repeatedly supported robust funding for programs such as research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Alzheimer’s research, nursing workforce development, Tourette syndrome research, and HIV/AIDS programs.
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Last week in Washington, the Senate Judiciary Committee grappled with serious allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The House of Representatives passed critical transportation bills, including railroad oversight legislation that I introduced. Additionally, I met with the President of Chile, the Director of USAID, and constituents from the 8th District.
Last week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee conducted oversight of the Trump Administration, including its relationship with Russia. Additionally, I met with the New Jersey Commissioner of Education, medical research advocates from Hoboken, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and others to discuss the impact of their work in the 8th District.
There was a lot of action in Washington this week as the House of Representatives considered immigration legislation, reconsidered the Farm Bill, and passed numerous bills related to the opioid crisis. Additionally, I attended hearings on U.S. policy in Afghanistan and pipeline safety, and held a number of meetings with diverse groups representing constituents from the 8th District, citizens around the country, and international delegations.
(Washington, D.C.)- Today, Congressman Sires released the following statement regarding Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey’s plan to reinvest in its policyholders:
(Washington, D.C.) – Yesterday, H.R. 1660, the Global Health Innovation Act of 2017, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 423-3.
At the beginning of the 115th Congress, Rep. Albio Sires and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) introduced this piece of legislation to promote the development of health products that are affordable, culturally appropriate, and easy to use in low-resource health systems.
As the new year begins, the growing unfinished business that remains is a pressing reminder of the work yet to be done when Congress returns to begin the second session of the 115th Congress on January 8th. Over the year, I have received almost 44,000 calls, letters, faxes and emails from constituents to voice your opinions on issues that have the greatest impact on the 8th District of New Jersey.
Last week in Washington, I cosponsored a number of bills to enhance veterans’ health, attended two Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearings which examined Russia as a counterterrorism partner and the effectiveness of the Kingpin Designation Act, and spoke on the floor about the dangerous effects of the Majority’s tax plan. I also met with different groups to discuss legislative priorities.
Last week in Washington, the Republicans introduced a tax plan, I questioned FEMA administrators on their disaster response efforts at a Transportation and Infrastructure Hearing, listened to the testimony of a North Korean defector at a Foreign Affairs Hearing, and held a number of meetings. Additionally, the House voted on legislation to strip funds from critical health programs.