Bill believes that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. Health care must be a right, not a privilege for the few. Unfortunately, in the years before health care reform, one out of three Americans under 65 went without health insurance at some point--putting off medical appointments and going without the screenings and treatments they need. This was of great concern to Bill not only for those whose health may have deteriorated during this time, but also for younger Americans who are not catching costly or deadly diseases early.
As a member of the exclusive Health Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, Bill worked on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as the health care reform bill, to help 32 million uninsured Americans afford health insurance through new state-by-state marketplaces. In New Jersey, health reform means improved consumer protections for 5.3 million New Jersey residents with private insurance coverage so they no longer have to worry about their coverage running out as they face unexpected medical bills, free preventative care for 1.3 million New Jersey Medicare enrollees, and tax credits for 144,000 New Jersey small businesses to help cover the costs of offering health care coverage. In the 8th Congressional District, the bill will prevent 900 families from filing bankruptcy as a result of medical bills and give 47,000 young adults the option of staying on their parents' insurance as they go to college. As Bill has spoken to groups in Essex and Passaic County, he has emphasized health reform's ability to create stability in the health care system to give residents across New Jersey an increased peace of mind.
Regarding Bill's personal involvement with health care reform, in order to address the growing shortage of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals, Bill introduced H.R. 1946, the Health Workforce Investment Act of 2009. His bill, which was included as part of health care reform, would ensure a national health work force strategy is developed to respond to growing shortages.
Prior to health care reform, Bill fought to pass the re-authorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). On February 4, 2009, Bill was proud to join President Obama at the White House for the signing of this bill, which provides health care coverage for 11 million children. Also in early 2009, Bill joined his colleagues to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This bill provided essential funds for health information technology to update our antiquated paper-based system, for prevention and wellness programs, and for comparative effectiveness research to evaluate the relative success of different health care services and treatment options.
Looking ahead to national health care costs, Bill believes that we must work together to make our health care system more efficient, by preventing and managing costly chronic conditions as well as paying providers based on the quality, not quantity, of care offered. While health care reform takes the first step to move our system from fee-for-service towards coordinated care models and from focusing simply on illness to promoting wellness, Bill believes that in the end our health is our responsibility.
As Bill continues to work on health issues within the Ways and Means Committee, he is committed to making health care coverage more affordable for all New Jersey residents and keeping the health care system accountable to you.