Health Care issues affect us all and determining the best means of addressing them is an important part of my work in Congress. To learn how the Affordable Care Act will affect you, or to find insurance options that meets your family or small business needs, visit HealthSource RI, or call their assistance center at 1-855-840-HSRI (4774).
Despite the fact that we spend more on health care than any other industrialized nation, too many of our citizens still face challenges in accessing the very medical care that America has long been a leader in providing. On March 21, 2010, I was proud to join my Congressional colleagues in taking an historic vote to pass comprehensive health reform legislation. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has already started instituting the changes we need to provide more security and stability to Americans who have health insurance, guarantee insurance to the millions who don’t, and lower health care costs for our families, businesses and the government.
These goals were ultimately reaffirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a June 28, 2012, decision to uphold the law. The consumer protections at the heart of the law will prevent families from being denied coverage because they are sick, abolish annual and lifetime insurance limits, allow young adults to remain on their parents’ coverage and close the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole for seniors.
The high court’s ruling also substantiated Rhode Island’s efforts to lead the nation in the planning and implementation of the health reform, including an online health insurance portal to allow individuals and small businesses to shop for insurance based on transparent, competitive pricing while providing tax subsidies to those who can’t afford the full cost of coverage. To learn how the Affordable Care Act affects you, or to find a Rhode Island insurance plan that best meets your needs, please visit HealthSource RI, or call their assistance center at 1-855-840-HSRI (4774).
My staff also stands ready to address any questions or concerns you may have. For assistance, please call my Warwick office at (401) 732-9400 to speak to one of my caseworkers.
The Medicare system was established in 1965 because the private health care industry was unable to provide adequate health coverage for the elderly and disabled citizens of our nation. In order to preserve this promise we must take meaningful action to ensure a strong and sustainable Medicare program that provides our seniors with the health care they deserve. The 2010 health reform bill begins to achieve this by closing the Medicare Part D prescription drug gap, also known as the doughnut hole, in order to make drugs more affordable for seniors. This includes a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs as well as discounts on generics. It also eliminates co-pays for preventive care to promote wellness and ease cost burdens, gets rid of billions of dollars in fraud, waste and abuse and protects Medicare by extending trust fund solvency by eight years.
Additionally, on November 19, 2009, the House passed a companion bill to health reform, H.R. 3961, a measure that would have provided a permanent fix for the flawed Medicare physician reimbursement formula, known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), which is threatening access to care for our seniors. Since the Senate did not act on this legislation, Congress passed multiple temporary measures to delay the expected 27 percent reduction in doctor reimbursements, including a three month patch through March 31, 2014, which was included in the 2014 budget agreement (H.J.Res.59). I continue to believe we must find a permanent solution so this persistent problem, and I am a cosponsor of H.R. 2810 to repeal the SGR and more accurately reflect the costs of providing care in the current market.
Innovative Health Research
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the primary agency charged with conducting and supporting medical research. Projects funded by NIH represent opportunities to understand diseases, improve health, and open the way for future progress in medical research. They provide us with the knowledge needed to understand – and ultimately to control or defeat – cancer, Parkinson’s, diabetes, and many other ailments, diseases and conditions. Biomedical research not only represents the future of medical innovation, but it is an important engine of economic innovation. It has enormous potential to translate into 21st Century jobs.
Unfortunately, the budgetary pressures of sequestration have forced reductions in medical research funding, hindering both medical and economic innovation across the country. We can achieve a balanced budget without sacrificing important priorities. That is why I support the repeal of sequestration and the passage of a balanced proposal of targeted spending reductions and revenue increases.
During my time in Congress, I have been proud to advocate strongly for funding increases at NIH, as well as the Department of Defense Medical Research Programs and the Veterans Administration’s Office of Research and Development, which play key roles in advancing knowledge and promoting innovations that improve the health and care of our servicemembers, veterans and the nation as a whole.