In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed to provide Americans with access to affordable and quality health care. While not perfect, the ACA provides millions of Americans with health care coverage that they may not otherwise have access to. It also prohibits denial of care for individuals with pre-existing conditions, an estimated 54 million people. Additionally, the ACA outlines essential health benefits that must be covered by insurance companies, including critical services like mental health and maternity care.
Attacks on American Health Care
Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress and the Trump Administration continue to undermine the ACA and have made a concerted effort to strip the health protections this legislation affords patients. These efforts to undermine the ACA have included expanding the sale of short-term junk plans, limiting consumer enrollment assistance, weakening federal standards, and asking the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to invalidate the entirety of the ACA. Furthermore, protections and access to health care for women and LGBTQ+ individuals continue to be limited. You may find more specific information about my efforts to protect access to women’s health care here.
I recognize that the ACA is instrumental in improving access, quality, and affordability for millions, improving public health outcomes and quality of life. My Democratic colleagues and I vow to fight for protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions and address the rising cost of health care. Some of the bills I have cosponsored this Congress to do just this are:
- H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act, as passed by the House of Representatives, promotes generic competition, restores funding for ACA enrollment and outreach activities, rescinds the rule promoting junk insurance plans, and strengthens protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.
- H.R. 1884, the Protecting Pre-Existing Conditions and Making Health Care More Affordable Act, would lower health insurance premiums by expanding affordability assistance, strengthen protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and stop insurance companies from selling junk health insurance plans.
- H.Res.271, as passed in the House, urges the Department of Justice to cease its efforts against the ACA and reverse its position in Texas v. United States.
The opioid epidemic is a national crisis and a public health emergency that has taken thousands of lives. In fact, it is estimated that over 130 people die each day in the United States from an opioid overdose. Ensuring state and local governments have access to adequate resources is critical to reducing the number of deaths from opioids and providing individuals with the treatment and services they need. I have cosponsored H.R. 2569, the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act of 2019, to help provide this much needed investment to combat the opioid epidemic. This bill would provide more than $100 billion over ten years to fight the opioid crisis.
Community Health Centers
Community Health Centers (CHCs) play a critical role in providing comprehensive, quality, affordable care to low-income populations in our community. In New Jersey, CHCs served 569,965 patients across 24 health centers at 137 sites. A majority of these patients are uninsured, publicly-insured, or low income. CHCs play a vital role in the health of our communities, which is why I continue to be an advocate on Capitol Hill for CHCs. In addition to supporting annual appropriations requests, I have cosponsored bills which will provide much-needed funding to CHCs, including:
- H.R. 2328, the Community Health Investment, Modernization, and Excellence Act of 2019, would reauthorize and extend funding for community health centers and the National Health Service Corps.
- H.R. 1943, the Community Health Center and Primary Care Workforce Expansion Act of 2019, would fund Federally Qualified Health Centers and the National Health Service Corps.
More on Health Care
Last week, the House passed multiple pieces of legislation including a bill to suspend the debt limit and prevent economic catastrophe, a bill to extend funding for surface transportation, and a continuing resolution which will provide much needed emergency aid to those impacted by Hurricane Ida, extend federal funding through December 3 to prevent a government shutdown, and provide resources to assist the relocation of Afghan refugees.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ), a member of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, announced that Bridgeway Behavioral Health Services received a $3 million Mental Health and Substance Abuse Grant.
Throughout last week, I watched the developing situation in Afghanistan closely, and my office assisted in evacuation efforts for constituents who have family members in the country. Earlier in the week, the House passed H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Advancing Voting Rights Act and H.Res.601, to begin consideration of the budget resolution.
This week, I wrote an op-ed calling for more Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. I also cosponsored several important pieces of legislation to support the resiliency of coastal ecosystems, encourage students to study STEM, remove taxes on diapers, research the effects of technology on the cognitive development of children, reduce noise pollution from airports, continue to provide expanded access to mammograms, and support veterans who were discharged due to their sexual orientation.
(Washington, D.C.) – It has been over 7 months since the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine was administered to an ICU Nurse in New York City. Since then, 49.5% of the U.S. population has received full vaccination doses, and a total of 57.4% of people have had at least one dose. Thanks to this quick progress, Americans got a taste of pre-pandemic normalcy as cases plummeted throughout May and June.
This week, I voted to pass three appropriations bills to fund the federal government. I also voted to establish commemorative works for Gold Star Families, recipients of the National Medal of Honor, victims of the September 11th attack, and Japanese Americans interned during World War II. The House also passed several pieces of legislation to upgrade medical facilities for veterans, safely dispose of certain medications, and supplement funding for the U.S. Capitol Police and National Guard following the January 6th attack.
This week, I voted to pass the Divided Family Reunification Act, the Consumer Protection and Recovery Act, the Allies Act, and the PFAS Action Act. I also cosponsored legislation to incentivize renewable energy investments, establish a strategy to manage biodiversity loss, raise awareness for black maternal mental health, and streamline access to health care for veterans exposed to burn pits. As Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, I led a hearing on the historic protests and repression of free expression in Cuba.
This week, I spoke in solidarity with the Cuban people who are protesting the Castro/Diaz-Canel dictatorship in Cuba, and thanked President Biden for showing the United States’ clear support for democracy on the island. The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a markup and a hearing where I asked USAID Administrator Samantha Power to do all that is possible to advance critical democracy and human rights programming on the island.
(Washington, D.C.) – Earlier today, the House Committee on Appropriations released the final report for the House FY 22 Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) Appropriations Bill. Included in the report was full funding for the National Neurological Conditions Surveillance System (NNCSS), a request led by Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ).
Last week, I voted to pass several important pieces of legislation, including the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, the Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act, the Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act, the LGBTQ Business Equal Credit Enforcement and Investment Act, and the Enhancing State Energy Security Planning and Emergency Preparedness Act. The House also passed Senate resolutions, S.J.Res.13, S.J.Res.14, and S.J.Res.15 which overturned Trump era rules.