"Ensuring that every American has access to quality, affordable health care coverage is a national priority." - Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Senator
Senator Gillibrand believes the high cost of health care is a serious problem for families and for small businesses that struggle to provide health insurance for their employees. More than 47 million Americans – 2.5 million New Yorkers – are uninsured and millions of families and businesses are struggling with skyrocketing health care costs. In Congress, Senator Gillibrand has always fought hard to expand health care access and protect the coverage for those at risk of losing it. In the Senate, she has continued her work to provide affordable, quality care to every single American.
9/11 Health & Compensation Act
In December 2010, Senator Gillibrand led the fight in the Senate to pass the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to finally provide health and financial relief to first responders and community members suffering from ailments due to inhaling toxins after the Twin Towers fell on 9/11.
The health program is already operating and victims have accessed the treatment centers in New York City and throughout the country. Senator Gillibrand also has fought to have many of the cancers that responders and community members suffer from included in the program. The Victims Compensation Fund began writing the first compensation checks to victims in late 2012.
Senator Gillibrand understands how difficult it has become for individuals and families to access quality, affordable health care. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care and will transform the health care system in order to contain costs. It includes immediate changes to the way health insurance companies do business to protect consumers from discriminatory practices and provide Americans with better preventive coverage and the information they need to make informed decisions about their health insurance. The ACA also requires that children up to the age of 26 are able to obtain coverage through their parents’ health insurance plan.
Insurance companies are now barred from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions, health status, and gender. Once the ACA is fully implemented, uninsured Americans with a pre-existing condition will have access to an immediate insurance program to help them avoid medical bankruptcy and retirees will have greater certainty due to reinsurance provisions to help maintain coverage.
New health insurance exchanges will make coverage affordable and accessible for individuals and small businesses. Premium tax credits and cost-sharing assistance will help those who need assistance.
For seniors, the ACA closes the “donut hole” in Medicare Part D. It also extends the program’s solvency and cuts waste, fraud, and abuse. An annual wellness visit is covered without out-of-pocket expense to the beneficiary.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The FDA plays a vital role in ensuring the safety of our food and drug supplies. In May, the Senate passed the bipartisan Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA). This legislation reauthorizes the FDA user-fee programs to ensure that Americans get better access to safe, innovative medicines and medical devices. With this legislation, the FDA can approve drugs and medical devices, save biomedical industry jobs, protect patient access to new therapies and preserve America’s global leadership in biomedical innovation.
Senator Gillibrand co-sponsored an amendment that was included in the final bill to ensure sunscreen labels are clear, accurate, and provide consumers with the information they need to protect themselves. Skin cancer rates are skyrocketing, particularly in young adults, and this amendment establishes a compliance date for an FDA rule relating to sunscreen products for over-the-counter use.
Prescription Drug Abuse
In the past few years, overdoses and deaths from prescription drugs – primarily opioid painkillers – have skyrocketed. Overdose from prescription painkillers is now one of the leading causes of accidental death in the U.S.
Senator Gillibrand supported legislation that was included with FDASIA to combat prescription drug abuse. It calls for an intensive study of tools and training for doctors, nurses, and health care professionals for effective pain management.
With one in 88 children now being affected by autism, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S., costing the nation $126 billion annually. Senator Gillibrand has long been an advocate for funding of research into the cause, treatment, and prevention of ASD.
To help improve the lives of children and families living with ASD, Senator Gillibrand introduced legislation that would mandate insurance companies cover autism treatment, increase federal funding for autism research, and ensure that that TRICARE – our military’s health care plan – provides coverage of autism therapies.
More than 475,000 New York children suffer from asthma, including Senator Gillibrand's own son. In order to help children suffering from asthma, Senator Gillibrand introduced legislation that would arm New York schools and families with the preventive and emergency resources they need, including making inhalers available to every child in need, creating school asthma management plans, and training more asthma educators.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), reported Lyme disease cases in the U.S. have more than doubled since 1991. Senator Gillibrand has co-sponsored the Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education, and Research Act, a bill to combat the growing epidemic of Lyme disease across the country. The legislation would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to develop an accurate test for tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease, determine the effectiveness of different treatments, and create a program to educate physicians and other health professionals about illnesses ticks can transmit to humans.
Nearly ten million American men and women suffer from infertility, meaning approximately one in eight couples of childbearing age cannot reproduce without medical assistance. However, a complicated mix of cost considerations, employer coverage gaps, and inconsistent state laws leave a confusing patchwork of barriers for infertile patients who need medical infertility treatments in order to have children. The prohibitive cost of many fertility treatments, amounting to over $40,000 in out-of-pocket expenses per pregnancy, is one of the key reasons patients do not seek treatment for infertility.
To help remedy this situation, Senator Gillibrand introduced the Family Act, which would establish a federal tax credit to help offset the costs of infertility treatments, making it more accessible to those who lack insurance coverage for these services, or who are unable to afford treatment.
Over three decades later, HIV/AIDS remains one of the most significant public health problems in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S. with over 50,000 new infections every year.
Senator Gillibrand introduced S. 1446, legislation that would increase the use of HIV screening tests for patients on Medicaid. It would reimburse states 90 percent of the cost of their routine HIV screening services provided through Medicaid for States that offer annual, voluntary testing. She also introduced the National Black Clergy for the Elimination of HIV/AIDS Act, which would establish grants to public health agencies and faith-based organizations that conduct prevention, testing, and outreach in the African-American community. She is also a co-sponsor of The Early Treatment for HIV Act, which would provide Medicaid coverage for certain low-income HIV-infected individuals.
Breast Cancer Research
On average, over 14,000 New York women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and nearly 3,000 New York women lose their lives to breast cancer each year. According to The American Cancer Society, over a quarter of a million women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 nationwide.
During the health care debate, Senator Gillibrand fought hard to prevent insurance companies from discriminating against women by denying or rescinding coverage to breast cancer survivors and providing free preventive care for women. The health care reform law outlaws discrimination and ensures that every woman in America has access to free screening and prevention services.
Senator Gillibrand is working hard to increase awareness and emphasize prevention, particularly among younger women. She introduced legislation that would require insurers to cover minimum hospital stays following major breast cancer treatments, including surgeries. She also introduced legislation that would establish a standard of best practices for providers to help close racial disparities in access to lifesaving treatments.
Senator Gillibrand is working to secure $150 million for the Department of Defense (DOD) peer-reviewed Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP). DOD BCRP has proven itself a powerful weapon in the fight against breast cancer and continues to bring us closer to finding the answers necessary to end breast cancer once and for all. It has established itself across the nation and around the world as a model medical research program.