Regardless of personal background or political leanings, we all share a concern for access to healthcare for ourselves and our families. As a Member of Congress, I am committed to making quality and comprehensive healthcare 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 healthcare 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 healthcare 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, Social Security and Disability
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.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
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 healthcare 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.
Disproportionate Sharing Hospitals (DSH) Allotments
I was proud to help negotiate a compromise with the Tennessee Congressional Delegation that will guarantee disproportionate share hospital (DSH) allotments totaling more than $530 million over the next 10 years to help the state’s hospitals and community health centers recoup expenses incurred caring for those who cannot afford to pay. Tennessee is the only state in the nation that does not receive DSH allotments automatically. 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 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. In 2015, I sponsored in the House the bipartisan and bicameral Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act that would move to fix our country’s failed drug policy concerning marijuana and help medical patients get the relief they need.
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 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.
National Institute of Health (NIH) Funding
The NIH serves as the world’s preeminent medical research institution and our nation’s best hope for finding cures, improving treatments, and gaining a better understanding of the complex causes of diseases that affect millions of Americans. It is also a key pillar of our economic recovery, generating high-paying jobs in the cutting-edge biomedical research industry and keeping America competitive in biomedical science. I am an advocate for sustained and strong federal funding of the research programs performed at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Disease is the most prominent enemy of our nation and we must do everything in our power to conquer it. Yes, we have foreign enemies overseas that we have to defend ourselves against; however, we should take some of the money allocated for the Department of Defense, especially which pentagon leaders have admitted to not needing, and use it to fight debilitating diseases. Funding for NIH should be increased -- not slashed -- because the research conducted there helps save lives, creates jobs and benefits future generations. In the past diseases have emerged that understandably alarmed the American public, but with proper and adequate funding we can do more to both stop the spread of and cure illnesses. This will allow our nation to be better prepared to work from a place of prevention – not reaction – when it comes to infectious diseases. I consider the NIH to be our nation’s other Department of Defense, and I feel as though the institute has been systemically starved of needed support. I have consistently joined with my colleagues in the House to oppose measures that would cut funding to the NIH, as well as to support measures that would increase its funding through the federal appropriations process. As a member of Congress, I have and will continue to work to fix our nation’s past mistakes, regarding the NIH, and urge Congress to effectively protect the American people from potential public health nightmares.
More on Healthcare
The HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace opened November 1 for 2018 plan shopping and comparisons.
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today released the following statement after President Trump’s decision to end Cost-Sharing Reduction payments required under the Affordable Care Act to make health insurance coverage affordable for millions of Americans:
Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice Ranking Member Steve Cohen (D-TN) issued the following statement in response to the Trump Administration’s issuance of two deeply troubling documents:
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – In the wake of reports that Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price’s repeated use of private jets and military aircrafts, costing the taxpayers over $1 million since May, Congressman Steve Cohen called on Secretary Price to resign.
The incidents at the Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center reported last week by the USA Today Network are disturbing and unacceptable.
When I read the story, I immediately called Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David Shulkin to express my concerns and discuss solutions to the ongoing problems at the Memphis VA. Memphis-area veterans have made enormous sacrifices for our county and deserve nothing but the best care.