The passage of H.R.3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act by the House is a historic event for our nation, and an important step in insuring that health care is not simply a privilege for some, but a guaranteed right for all.
The passage of this landmark legislation came at a time when our nation was in dire need of aggressive action. The U.S. spends more than twice the amount that other rich countries spend on medical care but the high cost of care has not brought a high standard of health for millions of men, women, and children. Despite being the richest country on Earth, the United States ranks 45th in life expectancy and has startlingly high rates of infant mortality, depression, obesity, and diabetes.
What's more, over 47 million Americans are uninsured and millions more are underinsured. Furthermore, our nation is desperately suffering from health care disparities in which people are disproportionally affected by diseases as a result of their race, sexual orientation, socio-economic group, and place of residence.
The facts are clear. Individuals and families without health coverage are more likely to forgo preventative and routine care which often leads to more extensive and expensive medical treatment, resulting in tax increases to finance care for the uninsured. These issues hit close to home. Florida ranks sixth in the nation in terms of the number of uninsured people. Thankfully, the Affordable Health care for America Act ensures quality and affordable health care coverage for 96 percent of Americans.
The bill also includes preventative health initiatives, restores competition and integrity to the insurance market and reduces our country's deficit. And, the health care vehicle repairs flaws in our health care system such as the Medicare "doughnut hole" which has forced countless beneficiaries to go forego or ration life saving medication. Further, it allows individuals to stay part of their parents' health care coverage until age 27 and expands access to Medicaid.
I proudly voted in favor of the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) and believe that it will lay the foundation for reform. However, sustained improvement in the health care system will require cooperation among the medical community, government, organizations, and everyday people.
I have fought for affordable health insurance as well as smart, comprehensive, and sustainable health care reform since I became a member of Congress in 1992. On January 14, 2009, I proudly cast my vote in favor of H.R. 2, the reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which provides quality health care to 11 million children -- 4 million of whom were previously uninsured. SCHIP was introduced by Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. of New Jersey and was signed into public law by President Obama on February 4, 2009.
On March 19, 2009, I introduced H. Res. 271, a resolution that recognizes the importance of increasing access to quality long-term care and calls for the development of a national long-term care strategy. The resolution calls on Congress to improve working conditions and training for home health aides, expand access to affordable long-term care and health services, support family caregivers, and promote preventative health to lessen the burden on long-term care in the future. The resolution was referred to the Committees on Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor.
Stymied market competition and delayed access to generic medication have posed serious health and economic costs to patients and taxpayers. On October 8, 2009, I introduced H.R. 3777, the Drug Price Competition Act of 2009 which increases access to affordable life-saving medications by encouraging fair price competition in the drug market. The Drug Price Competition Act of 2009 was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee on October 8, 2009.
Voluntary and routine screening for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is an effective and low-cost approach to decreasing the life-threatening and life-altering effects of these infections. On November 19, 2009, I introduced H.R. 4140, the Increasing Access to Voluntary Screening for HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections Act of 2009. The bill takes a multifaceted approach to reducing the spread and morbidities associated with HIV/AIDS and other STIs. The Increasing Access to Voluntary Screening for HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections Act of 2009 was referred to the committees on Energy and Commerce, Labor and Education, Ways and Means and Government Reform on November 19, 2009.
Achieving comprehensive health care reform requires a uniquely American approach that preserves what works and introduces new elements that will allow us to meet 21st century needs and goals. I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the isle to improve our health care system so that our children, seniors, veterans, and communities can reach their highest level of mental and physical health.