April 2010 Newsletter
Health Care Reform Will Not Jeopardize VA Health Care Services
Now that the President and Congress have laid out a strong plan for reforming the current health insurance system, I would like to take the opportunity to remind America's veterans that the plan will not affect the VA health care system. I continue to work in concert with leaders in the House of Representatives to ensure that veterans receive the world-class health care services they have so bravely earned.
As a result of these efforts, I was pleased to sign a letter with House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton, House Ways & Means Chairman Sander Levin, Education and Labor Chairman George Miller, and Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman affirming that current health care reform legislation does not undermine or change the Department of Veterans Affairs mandate to provide comprehensive health care to veterans. Enrolled veterans meet the individual responsibility requirements under the bill to maintain quality health coverage.
Under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, the House maintains an aggressive agenda to ensure that the promises made to veterans are kept. Over the last three years, Democrats have worked to secure landmark veterans' health care budgets, provided a G.I. Bill for the 21st Century, revamped the VA home loan program, and improved health care and benefits for veterans.
I firmly believe all of our citizens should have access to health care. I am proud that Congress has crafted a plan to bring stability and security to Americans who have insurance today, and affordable coverage to those who do not. This plan, however, will not jeopardize the current health care services and benefits provided by VA. We will keep our promise to our Nation's heroes of the past, present, and future.
Calling for stepped up efforts to curb foreclosures
Last month, I signed onto a letter calling for stepped up efforts to stem foreclosures. In the letter to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, I questioned the lack of progress in curbing the number of home foreclosures and dealing with their impact on the economy.
The letter in part reads, the "failure to take effective actions to manage the avalanche of home foreclosures is one of the great public policy failings of our time."
What's being done isn't working. We are asking for efforts to be redoubled and for them to think outside the current program. We just can't wait any longer for them to try to retool what they are doing. We need to try something else.
Instead of relying on voluntary programs, we recommend creating a new program to purchase mortgages. The program would be modeled after the Home Owners Loan Corporation and given the authority to tackle today's foreclosure crisis.
Announcing $16 Million of Recovery Act Funds for the County of San Diego!
I am pleased to announce a Recovery Act award of over $16 million to the County of San Diego's Health and Human Services Agency for prevention and wellness.
Prevention is critical to improving the heath of all Americans. This grant will allow San Diego's Health and Human Services Agency to provide education and programs to reduce obesity, increase physical activity, improve nutrition and decrease smoking, and improve the health of the residents of San Diego.
These community projects are part of the Health and Human Services comprehensive prevention and wellness initiative, Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The competitive funding awards to cities, towns, and tribes across the country will allow communities to support healthy choices among their residents through a variety of methods including increasing the availability of healthy foods and beverages, improving access to safe places for physical activity, discouraging tobacco use, and encouraging smoke-free environments.
Supporting Early Breast Cancer Education and Awareness
I recently joined more than 200 of my colleagues in co-sponsoring the Breast Cancer Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young (EARLY) Act, H.R. 1740.
This legislation would create a national campaign to increase awareness of the threats of breast cancer for young women. The bill also provides guidance and support to young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
We must provide women under 40 with the knowledge and tools to prevent, treat, and heal from this serious disease. We must also provide them with resources such as social support, fertility counseling, and training in ways to prevent the cancer's reoccurrence.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women under 40; however, diagnoses are often delayed for these younger women because both young women and providers lack the knowledge to proactively fight against this disease.
The legislation was sponsored by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL20), who recently announced that she successfully battled breast cancer last year after finding a lump during a routine self-examination.
Committee Supports President's Robust Budget for Veterans' in 2011 -- and 2012!!
Over the past four years, the outlook for veterans' funding has changed dramatically. Understanding that the cost of war includes the cost of the warrior, Democrats in Congress delivered a 55% increase in veterans' spending. The funding neglect of the past Administration is gone as new challenges to distribute resources efficiently emerge. Unwilling to accept late budgets, Congress passed an advance appropriations process so the Department of Veterans Affairs has access to stable funding to care for the ongoing medical needs of veterans.
On February 1, 2010, President Obama submitted the second budget proposal of his Administration, which provides an 8.3% increase for veterans' medical care. The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs supports the President's historic budget request, recommends targeted additional investment, and commits to meet the needs of the Department of Veterans Affairs' for the coming year. This budget is the first of its kind. It provides funding for the coming fiscal year and the following year, allowing VA to plan medical spending in advance and with assurance of funds. Instead of simply talking about sufficient, timely, and predictable funding for veterans, President Obama delivered and proposed a funding increase for VA medical care for 2012.
America's veterans deserve a 21st Century organization that serves their needs, just as they committed to serving the needs of this great Nation. I applaud President Obama for providing a budget proposal that focuses on the issues of homelessness prevention, delivering education benefits, expanding health care access to more veterans, and cleaning up the claims backlog. The House Committee fully supports the President's $60.3 billion proposal and recommends additional investment in VA infrastructure, oversight, vocational rehabilitation, and research efforts. Americans demand this and our veterans deserve nothing less.
Co-Sponsoring the Minority Diabetes Initiative Act
I recently joined my colleagues in co-sponsoring H.R. 4404, the Minority Diabetes Initiative Act. This bill will provide for grants through the Department of Health and Human Services to provide treatment for diabetes in minority communities.
Diabetes is a disease that adversely affects America's minority populations. This legislation will help minorities affected by diabetes to live healthy and productive lives.
H.R. 4404 was introduced by Congresswoman Maxine Waters and requires these grants to cover a variety of diabetes-related health care services, including routine care for diabetic patients, public education on diabetes prevention and control, eye care, foot care, and treatment for kidney disease and other complications of diabetes.
Supporting the Community College Energy Training Act
Last month, I co-sponsored the Community College Energy Training Act (H.R. 3731), legislation that will support community colleges as they train a new generation of technicians and other workers in America's renewable energy industry.
To end our dependence on fossil fuels, we need to start preparing a workforce that can support a sustainable alternative. "Providing resources to our community colleges focusing on renewable energy job training and education programs will help Southern California become a national leader in renewable energy production.
Investment in community colleges is integral to preparing the workforce for a clean energy economy. This bill will establish annual grants of $100 million provided jointly by the Secretaries of Labor and Energy to community colleges across the country. The grants will be used to create community college programs that focus on the inherent renewable energy resources in a given region, allowing students to train in the fields most likely to affect where they live. Additionally, the grants will also serve to boost and upgrade existing programs that are already providing similar job training and education. This will ensure that more students will receive training, and that the programs at community colleges will remain on the cutting edge of the renewable energy industry.
Joining the Historic Faith & Politics Institute 10th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage!
I am proud to announce my recent participation in the historic 2010 Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage on March 5 -- 7. The pilgrimage included events, meetings and tours in Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery, Alabama. This year marks the 45th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday, one of the most pivotal events of the civil rights movement.
In Alabama, we move through American history. We begin to see ourselves, not as Democrats or Republicans, not as members of the House or Senate, not as advocates of differing views, but as Americans on a journey to discover our roots. We come away with a deeper appreciation of our democracy, of the importance of our role as legislators, and the power of a determined people to make a difference in our society.
Congressman John Lewis and I were joined by noted Civil Rights leaders and Americans such as Dr. Douglas Brinkley, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary), Dr. Bob Zellner, Bernard Lafayette, Bettie Mae Fikes, Carolyn McKinstry and Dorothy Cotton on this year's pilgrimage.
This three-day passage through living history demonstrates the powerful role that spirituality and courage have played in shaping our nation's history. Since 1998, The Faith & Politics Institute has led nine bipartisan, interfaith Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimages to Alabama. These journeys have afforded over 100 members of the U.S. House and Senate an experiential journey through the history of the American civil rights movement. Described by many participants as one of the most valuable experiences they have had while in Congress, the pilgrimages bring people together across political, religious and racial lines, offering opportunities for engaged and reflective dialogue on the value of the civil rights movement and its meaning for us today.
Constituent Mail Bag
From Chula Vista:
Any effort to undermine the Clean Air Act disregards decades of research, scientific debate, court cases, public hearings and comments stating that global warming is happening and that it will be dangerous to human health and welfare. The Clean Air Act ensures that we can continue to make our autos more efficient, allow states to innovate, and clean up the dirtiest pollutiers -- some of which are nearly 100 years old and still have no modern pollution controls.
Congress must protect the Clean Air Act while moving quickly to enact clean energy and climate legislation that will make our country more secure, create clean energy jobs, curb global warming pollution, and make us energy independent.
The Clean Air Act has been successfully protecting our air and our health, supurring innovation, and economic vitality for 40 years. With this proven track record of success, now is not the time to roll back the Clean Air Act in order to bail out big polluters.
Congressman Filner replies:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
I wholeheartedly agree! By enforcing the Clean Air Act, the EPA will be ensuring America's biggest polluters are held accountable. Rest assured, I will continue to work with my colleagues to mvoe our nation towards a clean energy future!
I appreciate your advocacy on this issue.