he Affordable Care Act or "Obamacare"
For decades, I have worked hard to reform our nation's broken health care system. In 2010, I voted for a comprehensive health care reform bill, the Affordable Care Act, to provide better care and lower costs over time. The Affordable Care Act isn't perfect, and it doesn't solve all our health care problems, but it's an important first step. Like any other major legislation in Congress, we should continue to make improvements to the law.
Elements of the new law are being phased in over several years, and we've already seen a lot of changes. Children with pre-existing conditions such as asthma are no longer denied coverage. Starting in 2014, no one can be denied coverage for a pre-existing coverage.
Medicare is a vital and sacred program, but it's on a fiscally unsustainable course. According to the Social Security and Medicare Actuaries, the Medicare Trust Fund will be exhausted in 2026. We must keep it strong and sustainable for our seniors and for future generations.
In order to protect Medicare, we must first know how it works. My bill, the Medicare Information Act, would provide every American with an annual snapshot of their lifetime contributions and a summary of their estimated benefits. Many people don't realize that they will likely withdraw much more from Medicare than they paid in.
It's important to find waste and abuse in the Medicare system, and that's why I am a co-sponsor of the Preventing and Reducing Improper Medicare Expenditures (PRIME) Act. The PRIME Act would enact stronger penalties for Medicare and Medicaid fraud, curb improper or mistaken Medicare and Medicaid payments, improve waste and fraud prevention strategies and improve the sharing of anti-fraud data across state and federal agencies and programs.
Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse is a large and ever-growing problem that drives up health care costs, takes lives, and eats away at communities. Tennessee is one of the worst offenders, and that's why I co-sponsored the Pill Mill Crackdown Act, a bipartisan bill to increase penalties for distributing controlled substances illegally.
Promoting Innovation & Accessibility
Innovation and accessibility are vital to improving the quality of our health care system. From new electronic medical records that will streamline patient care to continuing research for cures to disease and access to the most effective medicines, we must continue finding ways to make the system better.
I also support initiatives to increase awareness, access to treatments and research for major health problems like diabetes and cancer.
Investing in Scientific and Health Care Research
Basic science, the seed corn of innovation, is primarily supported by the federal government -- not industry, which is typically more interested in applied research and development. But at a time when other countries are increasing investments in science and technology, basic science is at risk.
I've supported increases for NIH funding for years and helped launch national awards in 2012 to promote major breakthroughs from science and medical research.