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
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.
Health insurance can protect you from astronomical costs when a serious accident or illness occurs. Did you know that the average cost for a three-day hospital stay is $30,000? Or that a broken leg can cost up to $7,500? Health insurance helps protect you from unexpected costs like these. Coverage could be more affordable than you think.
November 1st marks the start of HealthCare.gov’s open enrollment period for 2018 coverage.
While in Washington this week, I urged Speaker Ryan to reauthorize CHIP, cosponsored legislation to protect victims of domestic violence, and sent letters to the Administration asking them to restore policies that facilitate access to affordable contraception. I also voted on the fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget and an Iran sanctions bill in addition to holding a number of meetings.