Having raised my three children as a single mother and served as the primary care provider for my own mother, I understand how difficult it can be to afford the health care your family needs and how important it is that your family has access to affordable and hassle-free health care.
Today, too many Americans don’t have access to quality care – often times because it is far too expensive. Unfortunately, the costs keep rising year after year, making it increasingly difficult to ensure our families have access to the care they need. The nationwide problem is only amplified in Texas. With one in four Texans without health care, we have the highest uninsured rate in the country.
I was deeply disappointed that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act failed to do enough to address the rising cost of health care in America – which is one of the primary reasons I voted against this legislation in 2009 and subsequently voted for its repeal.
The way to improve access and the affordability of health care is not through burdensome mandates on states, employers, and individuals. There are other options. I have been a strong and consistent supporter of community health centers. Studies show these centers – which treat the insured and uninsured as well as Medicare and Medicaid patients – are a shining example of cost-effective health care. I have also authored legislation to provide individuals with tax credits that can be used toward the purchase of health insurance.
Medicare is also a vitally important program to many of my constituents; however, it is facing unprecedented budget challenges. According to the Trustees of the Medicare program, Medicare could be broke by 2024. I believe it is critically important that this program is preserved for those who are at or near retirement today, but also available for our children and grandchildren.
Research and Prevention
I am a strong believer that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Health care prevention efforts improve lives, lower health care costs, and help people live longer.
Prevention for many diseases begins during childhood. That’s why I’ve worked with young people throughout the district on this issue, encouraging them to become more active and eat healthier so we can fight childhood obesity together. By teaching our children healthy habits, we can positively impact the way they live, work and play – every day of their lives.
Prevention goes hand in hand with early detection. I have been a strong supporter of increasing colorectal cancer screening. Without a colonoscopy, it is difficult to diagnose colorectal cancer until it’s too late. I am pleased that over the past several years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded its colorectal screening program for low-income and uninsured individuals. This is a life-saving program.
Research is also an important component in the fight against diseases. I was proud to support the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, which was signed into law in 2013. This law will advance research efforts to improve detection, treatment, and prevention of the most deadly cancers. I have also been a supporter of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which does invaluable research, using science to improve the lives of countless patients.
Medicare Physician Reimbursement
Under current law, if spending on Medicare physician services exceeds a set spending target, the physician payment rate is reduced. Such a reduction, however, would deliver a severe blow to our nation’s health care for seniors, as drastic cuts in payments could force many doctors to no longer accept Medicare patients. With fewer doctors accepting Medicare patients, many seniors could lose access to the doctor they trust and find it more difficult to find another physician that serves Medicare patients in their area.
To ensure seniors are protected, Congress has consistently passed temporary fixes, known as the “doc fix,” to make sure physician payments are not reduced. I voted in favor of H.R. 4015, a bill to permanently fix the Medicare physician reimbursement rate issue. Unfortunately the Senate did not consider this bill so we passed another temporary solution to the problem. I am optimistic that Congress will enact a long-term fix to the Medicare physician reimbursement rate issue, which is something I strongly support.