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.
After decades of failed efforts to reform our nation’s health care system, Congress finally enacted comprehensive legislation to open the door to affordable, high-quality care for all Americans. Since passage of the Affordable Care Act, over 200,000 Connecticut residents have enrolled in an affordable health insurance plan through Access Health CT, the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange.
My constituents in Southwest Connecticut continue to reap 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 companies must now spend at least 80% of the premiums they collect on health care for those they insure – and if not, they must refund some of the premium to make up the difference. As a result, Connecticut families already received about $18.5 million in rebates in 2012 and 2013.
- 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. In 2012, the average Connecticut resident facing this coverage gap saved $880, and the savings will increase annually. 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.
With the first open enrollment period concluding successfully, I look forward to working with my colleagues in Connecticut and in Congress to make the Affordable Care Act even more beneficial to Connecticut families with each passing year.
Click here for more information on the CT exchange and how Connecticut residents are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act.
Protecting Medicare and Medicaid
Medicare and Medicaid have been stable, reliable 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 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 the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would 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.