CONGRESSMAN JIM HIMES

Representing the 4th District of Connecticut

Health Care: In Depth

It is a core American value that we look after our own, including offering our citizens a basic level of healthcare. I was proud to support the first comprehensive legislation in decades to help change our health care system for the better. While this was an enormous step in the right direction, there is still much more to be done to address the challenge of rising health care costs. I am committed to working with all elements of our health care system to tackle this difficult problem and to ensure that everyone has access to decent, affordable health care now and in the future.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA)

The ACA represents true progress for tens of millions of Americans including more than 100,000 people in Connecticut who didn’t have insurance before, but it hasn’t been perfect. Our goal should be to ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable healthcare, and until that is a reality, our job is not done. To achieve this goal, we need bipartisan cooperation to make the necessary adjustments to the ACA so it can work for everyone. Unfortunately, however, the Republican Congress has tried - time and time again - to repeal it, without offering any alternatives or good-faith attempts to make it better.

My constituents in Southwest Connecticut have reaped the benefits of health care reform – receiving hundreds of thousands of free preventive services, seeing prescription drug costs decrease, and keeping children on their insurance plans until age 26.  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act:

  • Over 208,000 Connecticut residents have enrolled in an affordable health insurance plan through Access Health CT. Many families have received instant premium tax credits to make their coverage even more affordable.

  • Young adults up to age 26 can stay on a parent's health insurance plan. To date, more than 23,000 Connecticut residents between the ages of 21 and 25 have remained insured thanks to the health care reform law.

  • Insurance companies must now provide certain preventive services for free. Since the law’s enactment, Connecticut residents have been provided with 945,000 free preventive services, including mammograms, well-child visits, flu shots, and colonoscopies. Insurance policies must also include coverage for other essential health benefits, such as ambulance care, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity care, mental health, prescription drugs, rehabilitative, laboratory services, and pediatric services.

  • Insurance companies must now spend at least 80% of the premiums they collect on health care for those they insure.

  • The Medicare Prescription Drug “Donut Hole” is closing. Before the new health care law passed, some seniors faced a gap in prescription drug coverage through Medicare, which forced them to pay thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. The health care reform law is closing that gap. The "donut hole" will be closed completely by 2020.

  • Insurance companies can no longer impose annual or lifetime limits on coverage. Over 1.3 million Connecticut residents no longer have to worry about their coverage running out when they need it most.

  • Women can no longer be charged more for health care than men.

  • Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to the 1.5 million non-elderly Connecticut residents – including 190,000 children – who have some type of pre-existing health condition.

I will continue to look for real ways to improve on the Affordable Care Act, but I will not support its repeal.

Protecting Medicare and Medicaid

Medicare and Medicaid have been stable programs for seniors and people with disabilities for over four decades.  The Affordable Care Act made important changes to these programs to reduce costs, increase revenues, expand the scope of benefits and coverage, and encourage the development of new and efficient health care delivery systems.  We must continue to build on these efforts and be prepared to equitably reform these programs to address the challenging problem of rising health care costs and ensure that these important safety net programs are here to help this generation and the next.

Ensuring a Woman’s Access to Care

As a husband and as a father of two girls, I am fiercely supportive of women's rights and of a woman's reproductive freedom. I know that the reproductive choices a woman makes are a deeply personal and private issue, and I believe that women must be able to make their own decisions about their health without fear of government intrusion. Unfortunately, the past few years have seen an unprecedented assault against women’s reproductive rights at both the federal and state level – and I have fought against efforts to roll back women’s rights at every turn. This includes cosponsoring legislation to prohibit any current or future state laws that impose requirements or restrictions specifically on abortion services that are more burdensome than those for comparable procedures.

I also believe there is much more we can and must do to achieve the goals shared on both sides of this issue. I have and will continue to support efforts to reduce unplanned pregnancies through the availability of critical family planning services and access to comprehensive sex education. Through common-sense efforts, I hope to find opportunities to put differences aside and work in common purpose to ensure that potential parents are empowered to make good choices and every child grows up in a stable, loving family.

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