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 affects 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.
Passage of the Affordable Care Act was by no means a silver bullet, but a critical first step in the fight to reform health coverage and delivery. We must now focus our efforts on strengthening and improving the law so businesses, consumers, and health care providers can reap the benefits of a health care system befitting the greatest country in the world.
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. 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 April 14, 2015, Congress passed H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), legislation that finally repealed the flawed Medicare physician reimbursement formula, known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), which had been threatening access to care for our seniors for over a decade. H.R. 2 replaced the SGR with a payment system that incentivized physicians to participate in new, innovative payment models that could further reduce the growth in Medicare spending while preserving access to care. I will closely track its implementation to ensure that it more accurately reflects the costs of providing care in the current market while incentivizing health care quality for patients.
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.