Skip to Content
Health Care

issues

Health Care

 
Health care in America today works very well for some Americans, moderately well for most Americans, and not well or not at all for too many Americans. My goal is to preserve the best of American health care while closing the unacceptable gaps in availability, affordability, access and quality. It is critical to get this right for current and future generations, and I believe we need a renewed national debate, including within Congress, on how best to do so. This is why it is critical for Congress to focus on protecting and improving the Affordable Care Act, lowering prescription drug prices and increasing investments in biomedical research.

Protecting and Improving the Affordable Care Act

In the big picture, I am committed to achieving access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans. Despite the advances that have been made under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and, in Hawai‘i, under the Prepaid Health Care Act, there are still tens of millions of Americans who are uncovered and tens of millions more who are insufficiently or unaffordably covered. And there remain unacceptably high costs throughout much of current health care, especially prescription drugs, as well as attempts to reverse the ACA’s prohibition on discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions.

Throughout my time in Congress, I have consistently voted for the legislation that will increase affordability and reduce premium costs for consumers. In March 2021, I supported passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) because it included a broad expansion of ACA premium subsidies for people enrolled in marketplace health plans. Since its enactment, the ARPA’s enhanced premium tax credits have made health insurance more accessible for millions of low- and middle-income Americans. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a record-breaking 14.5 million people signed up for health care coverage in 2022 through the ACA Marketplaces. As a result of the premium tax credits, in 2022, monthly premiums were estimated to decrease by an average of $50 per person, and 4 out of 5 ACA enrollees could find a plan for $10 or less per month. 

That is why on August 12, 2022 I voted to pass the Inflation Reduction Act because it extended the enhanced premium tax credits for three more years. This will protect millions of Americans from becoming uninsured and continue to save the health care system from the costs of uncompensated care. 

Lowering Prescription Drug Prices

I believe that prescription drug prices in the United States are too high and that we must act to control them so people don’t have to choose between health care and food, housing and other necessary expenses.

That is also one of the reasons why I voted for the Inflation Reduction Act because it will give Medicare the authority to directly negotiate prices on the costliest drugs for the first time. In addition, the measure will penalize pharmaceutical companies that raise the price they charge Medicare patients faster than inflation. Negotiating drug prices isn’t just good for lowering the cost of drugs for patients, but it can save the Medicare program billions and help us reinvest those savings in other healthcare needs. Lastly, the Inflation Reduction Act will also make vaccines free for all Medicare beneficiaries and cap seniors’ out-of-pocket costs on insulin products to $35 per month and prescription drug spending to $2,000 a year, enabling Medicare’s 64 million enrollees to spend less out of pocket for their medications.

Investments in Biomedical Research

I believe full funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other related agencies is necessary to invest in critical healthcare research and for our country to stay at the forefront of medical innovation. Such advancements will help improve our understanding of disease and accelerate the development of new treatments and cures. Today, we are seeing in real time the impact of this important research through the development of vaccines and diagnostic breakthroughs to combat SARS-CoV-2, more commonly referred to as COVID-19. If medical innovation advances at the current pace, we could discover more effective treatments and cures to cancer and other diseases in our lifetimes.

As a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, I worked to secure $47 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Fiscal Year 2022. This funding includes $3 million to establish the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), a new biomedical research agency to provide NIH with the additional capacity needed to accelerate the pace of biomedical breakthroughs and execute our national priorities. I will continue to champion the NIH so that we can support scientific discoveries to improve health and save lives.

As a result of the pandemic, tens of thousands of researchers—including graduate students, postdocs and technical support staff—currently find themselves at risk of losing their jobs and their work as universities and independent research institutions look to cut costs. That is why I am also a cosponsor of the Research Investment to Spark the Economy Act, which would provide $25 billion in emergency relief for federal science agencies to award to help research universities, independent institutions and national laboratories maintain their progress on critical research projects. The RISE Act would help investigators and scientists across the country continue their important work in critical research areas, including developing effective treatments and finding cures for diseases such as cancer and diabetes.