Fixing our broken health care system has been my top priority for most of my life. My goal is to ensure that every person has access to affordable, quality and accessible health care. It is a national shame that our nation spends more than any other country in the world but fails to guarantee access to health care. 50 million Americans are completely uninsured, millions more are poorly insured. High medical costs are a factor in a majority of personal bankruptcies, and businesses, small and large, are struggling to pay for health care for their workers.
Lack of access to health care has resulted in the United States trailing the world in health outcomes. In 2012, the United States ranked 173rd in the infant mortality rate, 136th in the maternal mortality rate, and 51st in life expectancy. International comparisons by organizations such as the World Health Organization, OECD, and the Commonwealth Fund consistently show the U.S. rates poorly in meeting quality health measures despite spending far more than any other than country.
As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health, I am committed to building a health care system that works for everyone. We have made major strides in recent years, and I am especially proud of the passage of the historic Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. It is already benefiting millions of Americans, and it lays a strong foundation to make even more improvements.
We have more to do to achieve breakthroughs in medical research and to eliminate disparities in access to care. We must expand the health care workforce. We must ensure that everyone has affordable access to the health care they need, including prescription drugs, mental health services and the full range of reproductive health services.
I believe we can create the best health care system in the world and Obamacare is an excellent start.
Legislation I’ve Introduced
- Health Insurance Rate Review Act – The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that health insurers provide public justification for significant rate increases. While this is an important step, many states, including Illinois, lack the authority to deny rates that are excessive, negotiate for lower rates, or require rebates for consumers. It provides authority for the HHS Secretary to act to prevent excessive or unjustified premiums if that authority is not available at the state level.
- Clinical Psychologists – This bill would expand access to mental health services by providing Medicare payments to psychologists, without requiring that they be supervised, as long as they are legally licensed to provide those services.
- Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act – This bill would establish a Medicare-administered Part D drug plan to give seniors and people with disabilities more choices, in addition to private insurance-run plans. Medicare would use its purchasing power to bargain for discounts, as the VA does, and would also provide a transparent, publicly-accountable choice.
- Mental Health on Campus Improvement Act – Recognizing the need for more mental health services on college and university campuses, grants are provided to improve access and outreach. The bill would also create a College Campus Task Force to discuss the best ways to address mental and behavioral health concerns, including suicide prevention, on college campuses and undertake a targeted public education campaign
- Nurse Staffing Standards for Patient and Quality Care Act – The Nurse Staffing Standards for Patient Safety and Quality Care Act: According to the Institute of Medicine, up to 98,000 hospital patients die each year from preventable problems, many of which could be avoided with safe staffing levels. Further, the Joint Commission found that nurse-staffing shortages are a factor in one out of every four unexpected hospital deaths or injuries caused by errors. The Nurse Staffing bill would establish new minimum federal safety standards – including nurse-to-patient ratios – and require that hospitals work with direct care nurses to develop facility-specific staffing plans. It would also provide whistleblower protections for nurses who speak out to protect their patients' health and safety.
- Families USA
- National Women’s Law Center
- Commonwealth Fund
- Kaiser Family Foundation
- The Scan Foundation
- Center for Budget and Policy Priorities