Preserving and expanding access to quality health care for all Americans is a top priority for me. In March of 2010, H.R. 3590: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and H.R. 4872: the Reconciliation Act of 2010 became law. This legislation is known as the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.
During lengthy negotiations on the health care bill, it became clear that reform would fall short of true universal access to health care. However, the perfect should never be the enemy of the good and there was much to celebrate in the health care reform package. It extends coverage to millions more Americans and prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. It also increases funding for Community Health Centers, and invests in the training of doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers. Furthermore, the bill protects approximately $4 billion in funding for Massachusetts. Many in Congress remain strongly opposed to this landmark legislation. In fact, the Republican-controlled House voted dozens and dozens of times in the past several years to repeal or undermine healthcare reform.
President Trump has repeatedly promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. In May of 2017 the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed the House by a narrow margin of 217-213. This legislation is deeply flawed. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has determined that 24 million Americans would lose coverage under the AHCA. People with pre-existing conditions can be charged more or denied health care under this legislation. Older persons will pay more for health care. There are many other reasons to oppose this bill. The Senate has not acted on the AHCA.
I remain committed to universal health care coverage and that is why I co-sponsored H.R. 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act to establish a national single-payer healthcare system. Additionally, I have co-sponsored legislation that would allow any citizen to buy into the Medicare program, which is, after all, a long-established “public option,” although now limited to seniors. I will continue supporting legislation aimed at creating a national public option as well.
As a founder and co-chair of the Congressional Community Health Centers Caucus, I am fighting to expand funding for our nation's health centers, which provide cost-effective health care in neighborhoods that are traditionally underserved.
We remain too far from the goal of "universal access, zero disparities." I have led the fight to restore funding that was cut from the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program. REACH provides grants to localities so they can develop systems responsive to their particular local needs. It remains one of the best tools for reducing and ultimately eliminating disparities in health outcomes.
I have consistently opposed Republican-led efforts to undermine the fundamental nature of the Medicare program. Along with the entire Massachusetts Delegation, I voted against the so-called "Medicare Modernization Act" in 2003 that created the inadequate and overly complicated Medicare prescription drug benefit. Additionally, for the first time in Medicare's history, the bill required seniors seeking access to a Medicare benefit to enroll in a private plan. Further, and more troubling, enacted without additional revenue and without any attempt to control rising prescription drug costs, the bill set Medicare on a path to insolvency.
I am privileged to represent some of our nation's and the world's greatest universities, research institutes and teaching hospitals, and I am determined to preserve our preeminence in biomedical sciences and in academic medicine. Breakthroughs in our understanding of disease, in prevention, diagnosis, and clinical care remain to be achieved.