HEALTH CARE

Health care is a human right and I believe that all Americans should have access to affordable, high-quality health care. This fundamental principle has guided my work throughout my Congressional tenure.

In 2010, I helped craft the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. This landmark legislation helped 100,000 of my constituents gain affordable, high-quality health coverage. It also enacted vital consumer protections, safeguarding New Yorkers from discriminatory and unjust insurer practices. Under the ACA, health issuers are prohibited from setting premiums based on pre-existing conditions, age, or sex. These protections ensure that middle-class families can afford high-quality health coverage.

Since in the beginning of the Trump presidency, his administration has waged a relentless campaign to sabotage and undermine the ACA. President Trump, for example, cut-off cost-sharing reduction payments, which help low-income and vulnerable Americans afford their out-of-pocket expenses. More recently, the Administration has supported a federal lawsuit, Texas v. United States, to eliminate the ACA altogether, threatening the health coverage of millions of Americans, especially those with pre-existing conditions.

In the 116thCongress, I have supported numerous efforts to oppose the Administration’s attacks on health care. In one of my first acts, I voted for H.Res. 6, which would allow the House of Representatives to defend the ACA from President Trump and his fellow Republicans in Texas v. United States. As a top Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its Health Subcommittee, I helped develop the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act, H.R. 987. This commonsense legislation would reverse many of President Trump’s attacks on the ACA, including cuts to navigator and outreach funding, which help low-income communities enroll in ACA health plans. H.R. 987 would also improve the ACA by creating programs that reduce the cost of health insurance. While I work to strengthen the ACA, I will continue to encourage my House colleagues to take up universal heath coverage proposals.

Since 2004, I have been a cosponsor of every Medicare for All bill introduced. In addition, I am a Founding Member of the Medicare for All Caucus, which advocates for single-payer health care in the United States. This caucus helped secure the first-ever House hearing on single-payer proposals in the Ways and Means Committee. Medicare for All is a long overdue proposal which will provide every American with high-quality, affordable health care.  

Prescription drugs are an important component of health care, but the price of many common but necessary drugs has skyrocketed. Many Hardworking families, consequently, are having to make an unconscionable choice between filling a lifesaving prescription or buying other daily necessities such as groceries. New Yorkers need immediate relief from this public health crisis.

Congress needs to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices for American families. The 2003 Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act contained the so-called “non-interference clause,” a horrendous provision that bars Medicare from using its purchasing power to lower the cost of life-saving drugs. I voted against this legislation in 2003 and continue to oppose it, given that it restricts the federal government’s ability to provide relief to New Yorkers while lining the drug industry’s pockets.

In the 116thCongress, I have helped advance legislation in the Energy and Commerce Committee that will lower the cost of prescription drugs by expediting the development of lower-cost alternatives or generics. I have also voted for legislation that will stamp out unfair industry practices that prevent market competition. I will continue to use my voice and vote to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

Reproductive health is a fundamental part of comprehensive health care. As a longstanding Member of the Pro-Choice Caucus, I have consistently voted to expand and protect access to reproductive health care services—including contraception, family planning, and abortion. I am proud to cosponsor legislation in the 116thCongress such as the Women’s Health Protection Act and the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act, which will make these services more accessible.

It is imperative that health care providers such as hospitals and clinics have the resources to serve all members of a community, including the most vulnerable populations. I have fought to preserve and protect Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments, a financial lifeline for safety-net hospitals.

Every year, 200 New York hospitals receive about $1.8B in Medicaid DSH payments. They use these federal dollars to provide health care services to low-income and vulnerable populations. Without Congressional action, these payments will be drastically cut, potentially shuttering community-based clinics and hospitals.

In May 2019, I led a bipartisan letter, signed by 300 Members of the House, to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy urging them to eliminate these cuts. In July, the Energy and Commerce Committee passed an amendment, that I had drafted, which would eliminate these cuts for two years. Altogether, this measure would save U.S. safety-net hospitals $12 billion in Medicaid DSH payments over two-years.

The United States is in the midst of several epidemics which threaten the health and safety of New Yorkers.

 

VACCINES Act

Parts of our state are currently facing a measles outbreak in part due to falling vaccination rates and disinformation. In response to this pubic health crisis, I introduced the bipartisan Vaccine Awareness Campaign to Champion Immunization Nationally and Enhance Safety (VACCINES Act), H.R. 2862, on May 22, 2019. This legislation will help increase immunization rates in NY-16 and across the country as well as prevent future outbreaks of infectious diseases.

 

Poison Center Network Enhancement Act

The ongoing opioid epidemic has claimed far too many lives in New York and across the country. Poison control centers are on the frontlines of responding to this epidemic; they offer free, confidential, expert medical advice to Americans responding to opioid overdoses. I introduced the Poison Center Network Enhancement Act, H.R. 501, on January 11, 2019 and it passed the House on February 25, 2019 with bipartisan support. This legislation would reauthorize funding for the nation’s 55 poison control centers, including the New York City Regional Poison Control Center which serves Westchester and the Bronx. I am hopeful the full Senate will take up this legislation.

 

Smoke Free Schools Act  

There has been a significant spike in the number of children using e-cigarettes. In fact, between 2017 and 2018, the number of high school students using e-cigarettes increased by 78 percent and the number of middle schoolers rose by 48 percent. E-cigarettes threaten to addict a new generation of Americans to tobacco products. In response to this crisis, I introduced the bipartisan Smoke Free Schools Act, H.R. 4019, on July 25, 2019. Following the lead of New York, this legislation would ban e-cigarette use in schools and child care facilities.