Quality, accessible, affordable health care should be a right, not just a privilege reserved for the wealthy few. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we've made this fundamental right a reality. I am proud of the work I did in the Ways and Means Committee to prohibit health insurance companies from charging women higher health insurance premiums than men.
The committee that I sit on, the Ways and Means Committee, is very active on health care issues. Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee in the House of Representatives and has jurisdiction over Medicare, Social Security, and social service programs. Most recently, we have held numerous hearings on protecting people with preexisting conditions, caring for aging Americans, stopping surprise billing, and lowering prescription drug costs.
THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
The numbers speak for themselves – tens of millions of uninsured Americans have gained health insurance coverage since enactment of the ACA. Millions more got health coverage through the ACA Marketplaces, including young adults who were able to obtain or continue coverage on their parents’ policies, and those who are newly covered by Medicaid.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, working families have more security, and many of those who already had health insurance now have better coverage. In the private market, millions more now have access to expanded coverage for preventive health care services, such as a mammogram or flu shot, without cost-sharing. Benefits in other plans (e.g., coverage received from your employer) are more reliable and comprehensive than ever before. As an added benefit, the ACA reduced the rate of health care cost growth by spending and utilizing our health care dollars more wisely.
While the ACA is not perfect, efforts by the Trump Administration to sabotage health coverage for millions of Americans, many of those including our most vulnerable populations, is not right. I will continue working with my colleagues to protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions. This work includes continuing to cross the aisle with Republican colleagues to make this law more effective, but I will not vote for any law that will deny health care for millions of Americans.
I am proud to have helped pass the Affordable Care Act and the improvements it made to Medicare. The ACA makes Medicare stronger by adding new benefits, fighting fraud, and improving care for patients. And we’re already seeing results: So far, 8.2 million seniors have saved more than $11.5 billion on their prescription drugs since 2010, an average of $1,407 per senior. And over the next ten years, the law will save the average person in Medicare $4,200.
Today, more than 37 million seniors in Medicare have also received free preventive services with no co-pay under the Affordable Care Act, and Medicare Part B premiums have held steady for the past few years. The ACA also managed to control medical costs and extend the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund until at least 2030. These are remarkable accomplishments and I’m proud to support health care reform that provides better care and better results for our seniors.
I am also proud to support legislation that would provide seniors in Medicare access to dental, vision, and hearing services. There is currently a coverage gap for these services under Medicare and our seniors deserve access. Increasing access would improve quality of life and independence.
COST OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
Prescriptions are not recommendations. Our friends and family members need these medications. However, I have heard so many stories from people in our community about skipping their medications, watering down their dosages, or not even bothering to get their medicine from the pharmacy. People are choosing between paying their rent, mortgage, bills, and food over their prescriptions.
This is unacceptable. That is why I am proud to support legislation that would give security back to the American people, our friends and family. I believe that the Secretary of Health and Human Services should be allowed to negotiate for better prices on prescriptions drugs in Medicare. These negotiations would not only lower the cost of prescription drugs for those on Medicare but will lower the price for all Americans.
I am proud to have helped pass legislation that would lower the cost of prescription drugs and reinvest these savings into new treatments and cures through research funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These savings will also be reinvested back into the Medicare program to help our seniors and people with disabilities.
For millions of American families, including my own, the heartbreak of watching a loved one struggle with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias is a pain we know all too well. An estimated 5.8 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s in 2019. This devastating disease disproportionately affects certain groups – especially women and Latinos. This year, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the United States an estimated $290 billion, including $195 billion in Medicare and Medicaid payments. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s may grow to a projected 14 million, and at the current rate, the cost of Alzheimer’s will reach $1.1 trillion in 2050.
That is why I am proud to sponsor the bipartisan Concentrating on High-Value Alzheimer’s Needs to Get to an End (CHANGE) Act. My legislation will give providers the tools they need to detect and diagnose Alzheimer’s at its earliest stages. It will also better support the caregivers of those living with it. The bill has broad bipartisan support and has also been introduced in the Senate.
In 2007, as Chairwoman for the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, I held a hearing to examine if the National Football League’s (NFL) player disability plan was adequately serving former players. Many of these players suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of multiple concussions they endured while playing in the NFL.
In 2009 and 2010, I participated in multiple hearings regarding head injuries and football, and grilled NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell over the league’s concussion awareness campaign. These hearings resulted in greater public awareness and changes to how football teams address player concussions on all levels of play. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that more than 300,000 athletes lose consciousness from concussions every year in the United States, and the total number of concussions could be as high as 3.8 million. I am proud to continue working on this important issue through my involvement in the congressional Traumatic Brain Injury Taskforce.