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
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Albio Sires announced that Newark Community Health Centers, Inc. received a $2,534,540 grant by the Department of Health and Human Services, through the Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA) Health Center Cluster grant program.
Last week, the House voted on the Conference Report to accompany the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) funding bill and a crucial stopgap funding bill to help avert a government shutdown while a larger package is negotiated. On Wednesday, I was honored to receive the In Defense of Christian’s 2020 Congressional Champion Award. I cosponsored legislation to protect providers from Medicare cuts in the midst of the pandemic, help those people facing eviction, support children with disabilities, and supporting human rights across the globe.
This week, the House voted on legislation to protect big cats from hostile internment, establish community advantage loan programs to help small businesses, and federally decriminalize marijuana. I also led a letter to House leadership highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on the affordable housing crisis in New Jersey and asking them to include relief measures in the next relief package.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices finalized guidelines for states on Tuesday, saying that health care workers and long-term care facility residents and staff should be among the first in the country to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a laudable decision and it is imperative that our hard-working health care heroes and residents in long-term care facilities (often among the most vulnerable in our population to a severe case of COVID-19) are protected.
This week, I signed onto legislation to allow tax credits to rollover for childcare costs and signed onto a bill to keep students safe in schools. I also signed onto to letters to urge the President to have the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) set up drive through COVID-19 testing in New Jersey, include pro-worker and pro-labor provisions in the Fiscal Year 2021(FY21) appropriations package, and demand answers from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about the detention of unaccompanied minors.
Last week, I joined the Congressional Labor Caucus, and cosponsored legislation to raise the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) monthly benefits, help ensure children do not go hungry during the pandemic, raise the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2021, help students refinance their student loans, and ensure humane treatment of animals in any research and testing.
This week, I wrote an op-ed about the future of the Gateway Project, including the Hudson Tunnel Project, and its significance to the 8th District. I cosponsored legislation to protect the rights of students with disabilities, and to protect students from sexual abuse in schools. I also signed onto a letter to promote colorectal cancer screening and spoke with Colombian President Ivan Duque on the phone.
This week, I joined the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey to discuss affordable housing in the 8th District. I introduced legislation to support our economic partners in Latin America and the Caribbean and cosponsored legislation to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to schools, get surplus computers to our nation’s veterans and students, and reaffirm our commitment to marriage equality.
Last week, I introduced legislation in the House to ensure language access and multilingual materials for all resources coming from federal government. I cosponsored legislation to help struggling independent music venues, provide grants to communities which are struggling with COVID-19, establish proper procedures and policies for nursing homes during the current and future public health emergencies, supporting digital equity, and supporting the people of Artsakh and their right to self-determination.
Last week, I signed onto legislation to crack down on wildlife markets, which are harmful to animals and can contribute to the outbreak of pandemics. I also signed onto legislation to increase the standard of care at nursing homes, help communities transition to clean power grids, and protect press freedom. I also led a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging them to issue an emergency rule on face masks for air travel.