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.
This is why I have consistently voted for the legislation that will increase affordability and reduce premium costs for consumers, prevent “junk plans” or short-term plans that are not required to comply by the ACA’s consumer protections for pre-existing conditions or include essential health benefits. In addition, I have supported funding for community-based organizations (navigators) that provide a critical source of unbiased information on coverage options for consumers who have questions.
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.
This is why I cosponsored and voted for the H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate prices on up to 250 of the costliest drugs to Medicare that lack competition from at least one generic or biosimilar on the market. In addition, this legislation would create a maximum price for any negotiated drug to ensure that Americans are not paying more than what pharmaceutical companies charge for the same drug in other countries. Lastly, this legislation would also allow our kupuna to access dental, vision and hearing coverage through Medicare with the cost savings associated with negotiating drug prices. Negotiating drug prices isn’t just good for lowering the cost of drugs for patients, but it can lead to savings that means we can invest in other healthcare needs.
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 nearly $43 billion for the NIH and $6.5 billion for the National Cancer Institute in Fiscal Year 2021. 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.