Health Care & the Affordable Care Act
Women have the most to gain from health care reform. In our current health care system, women often face higher health care costs than men and multiple barriers to obtaining health insurance. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which Congressman Pallone was proud to co-author, will make it illegal for insurance companies to use "gender rating" -- charging women more than men for the same coverage. It will also make it illegal to deny coverage or charge higher premiums on the basis of a "pre-existing condition," such as pregnancy or breast cancer. The ACA also eliminates all co-pays and deductibles for preventive services, like mammograms and birth control.
The Affordable Care Act includes a popular provision for birth control: what's been called the "contraceptive mandate." It is now law that employers must offer insurance plans that cover birth control without co-payment. Most health insurance plans were required to offer birth control without co-pays by January 1, 2013, and for many plans, it kicked in August 2013.
Right Wing Assault on Women's Reproductive Rights
Congressman Pallone has fought against Republican extremist attacks on women's health. He has voted against defunding important programs like Title X and Community Health Centers and Planned Parenthood, both of which provide family planning services, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and other preventive health care to low-income women. He has also consistently voted against a number of bills that have restricted women's access to comprehensive healthcare, including abortions. This past May, Republicans passed the most restrictive anti-abortion bill in a decade, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks' of pregnancy, that Congressman Pallone opposed.
Violence Against Women Act
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), first authorized in 1994, is at the core of our nation's response to these pervasive crimes and creates and supports comprehensive, effective and cost saving responses. The act was intended to change attitudes toward domestic violence, foster awareness of domestic violence, improve services and provisions for victims, and revise the manner in which the criminal justice system responds to domestic violence. Congressman Pallone was proud to support its reauthorization this year. With overwhelming bipartisan support -- the law extends and strengthens VAWA and contains mainstream, common-sense improvements to VAWA, including for the LGBT community and immigrant victims.
Equal Pay for Equal Work - Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
In 2007, the Supreme Court severely restricted the rights of employees to challenge unlawful pay discrimination. That is why on January 29th, 2009, President Obama signed the Ledbetter bill to help right this historic wrong. This was the first bill he signed as president and Congressman Pallone was proud to be an original cosponsor and vote in favor of it. Now, we have closed a significant loophole to allow for full compensation for sex-based wage discrimination and provided tools to enable the federal government to be more proactive in the fight. But, Congressman Pallone recognizes this fight is not over, and will not be until there is truly equal pay for equal work, and will continue to fight for the Equal Pay Amendment.
Healthy Families Act
A recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that about 40% of the U.S. workforce, or more than 55 million people, don't get any paid time off. That is why Congressman Pallone is a cosponsor of the Healthy Families Act recently introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) in the House (H.R. 1286). The bill closes mirrors the Family and Medical Leave Act, and by allowing Americans to earn paid sick time so that they can address their own health needs and the health needs of their families.
Increasing the Minimum Wage
It has been four years since minimum wage workers saw an increase in their paycheck. Passed by a Democratic Congress in 2007 and supported by Congressman Pallone, this increase gave as many as 13 million workers a much needed pay raise after a decade stuck at $5.15 per hour. Despite this, the real value of the minimum wage today buys less than it did in 1956. That is why the Congressman is a cosponsor of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 (H.R. 1010), which would increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 in three steps from its current level of $7.25 set in 2007, and supports the NJ minimum wage referendum on the ballot this November.
Congressman Pallone supports making high-quality preschool available to every child in America. Pallone supports the Obama Administrations proposal to allocate $75 billion in new funding over the next decade to partner with states and help expand access to low- and middle-income children who aren't currently enrolled in preschool programs. Congressman Pallone supports the Preschool for All initiative which encourages States to serve more four-year-olds from middle-income families and promotes access to full-day kindergarten and high-quality early education programs for children under the age of four. In addition, he supports directing $1.6 billion for investments in high-quality early learning for infants and toddlers through new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships.