Access to quality health care is crucial for every constituent living in the 13th Congressional District. As health insurance prices and prescription drug costs skyrocket, I will continue to be a strong advocate for affordable, comprehensive, and accessible health care. However, adequate health insurance alone is not enough. I believe Congress must do more to ensure that we have a robust health care system in this country that focuses on prevention and improving health outcomes.
I will continue to work to ensure that all Americans can get the affordable care they need, especially Georgia’s uninsured and under-insured communities. Since 2018, Georgia has had the fourth highest uninsured rate in the United States – 5 percent higher than the national average. While 13.4 percent of Georgians are uninsured, the uninsured rate is over 30 percent in some rural counties. Over one-third of the uninsured population in Georgia is concentrated in five counties in the Atlanta metropolitan area, and three of which are in Georgia’s 13th District (Clayton, Cobb, and Fulton counties). I am focused on supporting efforts to meaningfully expand Medicaid coverage, reduce health insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act, and protect access to Medicare Advantage plans for seniors with complex health care needs.
I am a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act, which protects people with preexisting conditions from being charged high out-of-pocket costs, and I support the elimination of annual and lifetime caps on health insurance coverage for all Americans. After receiving medical treatment, no one should have to worry about their insurance plan abruptly ending. In the 116th Congress, I co-sponsored and voted for H.R. 748, the Middle-Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act, a bill that would repeal the Cadillac tax – 40 percent excise tax on employer-sponsored health insurance plans that disproportionately affects women, seniors, and early retirees. I also voted in support of H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act, a bill that would prevent the sale of short-term health insurance coverage and expedite FDA approval for new generic medications. As health care costs continue to rise for families, I am eager to work with my colleagues to find solutions that will bring down health care costs and guarantee access to quality care.
Additionally, millions of women have been impacted by our nation’s maternal mortality epidemic, and Georgia currently has the highest maternal mortality rate in the United States – 46.2 deaths per 100,000 live births. To that end, in the 116th Congress, I have cosponsored legislation to prevent pregnancy-related deaths and improve health outcomes for mothers and newborn babies, H.R. 1897, and H.R. 2778.
As a vocal advocate for the Medicare program, I will continue to support efforts to strengthen and expand Medicare coverage, especially for prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, and medical devices. In 2003, I voted in support of legislation that established the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program. While Medicare Part D is not perfect, adding prescription drug coverage to Medicare was an important step toward increasing access to quality medications for thousands of low-income seniors living in our state. I believe that any Medicare reforms should ensure that seniors can maintain access to affordable, specialized care and treatments, and people living with life-threatening medical conditions can access the best care available. In addition to Medicare, I believe we must continue our work to preserve Medicaid coverage and PeachCare for Kids for low-income children, which provides health care coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Together, Medicare, Medicaid, and PeachCare are invaluable components of our nation’s health care safety net. I will continue working to ensure these programs remain solvent and accessible.
As a Member of Congress, I will continue to focus on payment reforms and pilot programs that help improve our health care system to meet 21st Century needs. Supporting public-private partnerships that improve health care outcomes for patients and reducing student loan debt for medical school graduates have the potential to transform Georgia’s health care system. We must ensure that we have an experienced and diverse health care workforce, so that communities can access primary and specialized care when they need them most. I will also work to ensure that doctors, nurses, and other certified health care providers receive the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement they deserve, and that medical malpractice reforms protect these clinicians from frivolous lawsuits. We should continue to expand the use of telemedicine and electronic health records to increase access to health care services in rural communities throughout our state. Children in rural Georgia are more likely to have unmet health care needs. More than 60 of Georgia’s 159 counties do not have a pediatrician. Additionally, I have voted in support of robust federal funding in FY 2020 for biomedical, public health, and health services research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP).
We all have a stake in maintaining and improving Georgia’s health care system. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure health care continues to be at the forefront of our discussions. It is of the utmost importance, and Georgians deserve no less. I am here to work for Georgia, and I will continue to put forth a dedicated effort towards quality health care initiatives.