Washington, DC — The U.S. House of Representatives, under Democratic leadership, has taken a giant, historic step to bring quality and affordable health care to all Americans. And I mean all Americans _ regardless of race, gender, age, and income status.
In my more than 38 years of serving in the U.S. Congress, I don’t think I have ever been more proud of leading the Ways and Means Committee as we worked with our leadership team of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Whip Jim Clyburn.
Speaker Pelosi’s remarkable leadership on this issue has been consistently strong and sturdy. I also want to commend the chairpersons of the other committees, Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. George Miller, Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, for their cooperative spirit and hard work. We would not have been able to come this far without the leadership of President Barack Obama.
The Affordable Health Care for America Act includes provisions that: o Increase choice and competition, by protecting and improving consumers’ choices. o Allow individuals who aren’t currently covered by their employers and small businesses to purchase coverage through a new Health Insurance Exchange, where consumers can shop from a menu of affordable, quality health care options, including private plans, co-ops, and a new public insurance option. o Guarantee that every child in America has health care coverage that includes dental, hearing, and vision benefits; o End increases in premiums or denials of care based on pre-existing conditions, race, or gender, and strictly limit age rating; o Eliminate co-pays for preventive care, and cap outof pocket expenses to protect Americans from bankruptcy; o Strengthen Medicare and Medicaid and close the Medicare Part D “donut hole” so that seniors and lowincome Americans receive better quality of care and see lower prescription drug costs and out-of-pocket expenses; o Provide affordability credits, available on a sliding scale, for low- and middleincome individuals and families, to make premiums affordable and reduce cost-sharing; o Strengthen and expand programs that promote diversity in the health workforce, including enhancing scholarship programs that help students from disadvantaged backgrounds enter the health field; o Require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to identify health care disparities as part of a National Prevention and Wellness Strategy initiative. Eligible grantees include “health empowerment zones,” areas in which a community partnership provides multiple preventive health services; o Improve access to care for limited English proficient beneficiaries by providing enhanced funding through Medicaid and initiating a demonstration program in Medicare to reimburse providers for the provision of language services. Authorizes the Secretary to give preference to Community Based Medical Home (CBMH) applications that seek to eliminate health disparities.