Regardless of personal background or political leanings, we all share a concern for access to health care for ourselves and our families. As a Member of congress I am committed to making quality and comprehensive health care more affordable and more accessible. I am working with my colleagues to address some of the most pressing issues facing our community - including expanded access to health clinics, recruiting and retaining doctors to work in our inner cities, improved access to pre-natal care and services to reduce our infant mortality rate, and ways to reduce the financial impact to hospitals like Regional One Health, previously known as The MED, that provide hundreds of millions in uncompensated care to people each year.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA)
I am proud to say that in 2010 I voted in favor of the Affordable Care ACT (ACA). Since its passage in 2010, 20 million Americans have gained health coverage from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with tens of millions more benefiting from the health care law including residents of Tennessee's Ninth District. With the ACA young adults up to age 26 can stay on their parents’ insurance plan and health insurance companies can no longer discriminate against patients with pre-existing conditions. We’ve seen the benefits to our public health framework as millions of dollars in federal grant funding have been invested in our community health centers right here in the Ninth District. I strongly believe in the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. I will continue to fight against the removal of health insurance for millions of Americans because I believe that affordable health care should be a right, not a privilege. I continue to speak on the benefits of the ACA and fight against any attempts to dismantle or repeal the law, especially without an identified plan to replace it.
Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Social Security and Disability
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) has been a leading health issue facing Congress. Congress created CHIP in 1997 with broad bipartisan support. CHIP provides health coverage for children in working families with parents who either can’t afford insurance or hold jobs that lack health care benefits. I was proud to speak on the floor in support of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. I voted in favor of the CHIP Reauthorization Act in 2009. The program currently provides health insurance for more than 7 million children. This legislation protects coverage for those children and expands it to include an additional 4 million children who would otherwise be uninsured. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs impact the lives and health of thousands of citizens in the 9th District and across the country. I greatly appreciate the importance of both these essential programs and I am committed to ensuring that my constituents and their families receive these benefits, especially people with disabilities. These programs serve as the safety net for our nation's seniors and neediest citizens, and I will continue to push Congress to constantly evaluate the performance of the Medicare and Medicaid programs in order to realize the programs’ full potential. I remain committed to ensuring that my constituents receive the benefits that they have earned after years of contribution.
Disproportionate Sharing Hospitals (DSH)
Tennessee is the only state in the nation that does not receive Disproportionate Sharing Hospital (DSH) payments automatically. In my time in congress I have negotiated a compromise that will guarantee DSH allotments for an extend period of time to help the state’s hospitals and community health centers recoup expenses incurred caring for those who cannot afford to pay. I believe that Tennessee hospitals deserve the same level of certainty about their DSH allotments that hospitals throughout the United States have and I will continue to fighting for our hospitals in a bipartisan fashion to bring funds that will help keep hospitals around the state open and that will help provide not only my district 9 constituents but all Memphians and Tennesseans access to the medical care they need.
I have long supported medical marijuana laws throughout my career in public life and have worked for more rational and just policies when it comes to medical marijuana. With cuts being made across all levels of government and in nearly every agency, it makes no sense to waste dwindling resources interfering with a system that helps ease suffering and brings in revenue that helps pay for roads and highways, for police, and for firemen. Medical marijuana is an important treatment for individuals suffering from debilitating diseases—in some cases, it is the only treatment that works. I don’t think that it’s a good use of our limited federal resources to prevent people with diseases like AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis from seeking a little relief, compassion and dignity.
Mental health is an issue that is deeply personal for me, most notably because my father was a psychiatrist who later served as superintendent at the Western State Mental Health Institute in Bolivar, Tennessee. I agree that the United States needs a mental healthcare system that is of a high quality, while also being accessible and affordable. Mental illnesses are treatable diseases that impact millions of Americans each year, but many group health plans do not provide the same coverage for mental illnesses as they do for physical ailments. In the past I have supported legislation that would ensure that mental health and addiction benefits are no more restricted or costly than medical and surgical benefits. I believe that it is important to protect the rights of individuals requiring mental health assistance while providing treatment that is comprehensive, nondiscriminatory and protects them against abuse. In Congress I have proudly cosponsored several pieces of legislation that would help reform our mental health system and will continue to support proven initiatives and programs that provide assistance without discouraging patients from seeking care.
More on Healthcare
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today voted against H.J.Res 43, a resolution that would overturn a rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services under the Obama Administration to ensure that patients can access Title X family planning and preventive health services through any Title X-qualified provider, including Planned Parenthood. Title X helps ensure that millions of women who have low incomes or are uninsured have access to birth control, cancer screenings, STI tests, and other basic care. H.J.Res 43 passed the House by a vote of 230-188.
[WASHINGTON, DC] – Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN), Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Congressman Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) and Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO) today introduced the Stop, Observe, Ask and Respond (SOAR) to Health and Wellness Act. This bipartisan legislation would provide health care professionals at all levels training on how to identify and appropriately treat human trafficking victims. It is a companion to a Senate bill also introduced today by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
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As the new Congress convenes, and with Republicans in control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, Republican leadership has made repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) their top priority. I wanted to share with you some useful information about the benefits of the ACA for Tennessee and how its repeal could affect you. See here.