The 2010 passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), a landmark health care reform law, represented a milestone in the expansion of access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans and the development of long-needed protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Senator Coons believes we should improve upon the landmark reform law and continue to build a strong foundation for a healthy future. Senator Coons’ health care priorities include:
Improving the ACA. The health reform law expanded coverage opportunities for millions of Americans. The Supreme Court has affirmed this important step forward, protecting provisions that are vital to many Americans, including those with pre-existing conditions. Senator Coons believes there are, however, still ways we can improve upon this law and make it work better for Delaware families and businesses.
Senator Coons believes we can do more to make health care more affordable for those who fall in to coverage gaps under the ACA, and he supports exploring ways to ensure no one is put in the position of having to choose between health care and other essential items. He’s also fought to expand tax credits that help small businesses provide health insurance for employees and their families by introducing the Small Business Tax Credit Accessibility Act. He has also introduced the Access to Independent Health Insurance Advisors Act, which would help ensure independent insurance agents and brokers are able to continue providing necessary health insurance coverage assistance to consumers. Senator Coons has repeatedly fought to defend the law under attacks that would weaken core components, including eliminating the protection from discrimination for those with preexisting conditions.
Combatting the opioids crisis. Overdose deaths from prescription opioid painkillers and related heroin use are at epidemic levels in Delaware and across the country. Without significant attention and investments that reflect the magnitude of this crisis, our country will be at a disadvantage in stemming the tide of opioid overdoses and breaking the cycle of addiction that is ravaging families and communities across the nation. In 2018, Senator Coons and Senator Gardner introduced the DEA Clearinghouse Act, which would require the Drug Enforcement Administration to establish a national, real-time clearinghouse for all orders of controlled substances to identify suspicious orders and notify suppliers before the orders are filled. Senator Coons was also proud to join his colleagues in voting to pass the bipartisan SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which will improve the ways we are able to tackle opioid abuse through our health care and law enforcement systems. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he has fought to increase funding dedicated to fighting opioid addiction through mental health and addiction treatment services.
Supporting the National Institutes of Health. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is our country’s premier institution for medical research and offers our best hope for treating and curing debilitating diseases that American families battle every day, as well as containing rising health care costs. The cutting-edge research and innovation done at NIH has yielded major scientific advances that have improved health outcomes and contributed significantly to our nation’s economic growth. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Coons has fought for increased funding, which resulted in a $2 billion increase to NIH’s annual budget for Fiscal Year 19, for a total of $39.1 billion.
Providing and promoting end-of-life care. Senator Coons believes that every American deserves the opportunity to make his or her own health care decisions. Yet far too often, families in Delaware and across the United States find themselves making difficult and complicated health care decisions for loved ones who are no longer able to speak for themselves. Senator Coons wants to expand access to information about all options available to patients and families and help them access the medical and social services available to aid and comfort them in their time of difficulty. He has partnered with Senators Cassidy, Bennet, and Barrasso in introducing the bipartisan Medicare Choices Empowerment and Protection Act, which would offer a small, one-time financial incentive to encourage Medicare beneficiaries to provide clear guidance to their medical providers and family members should they become incapable of speaking for themselves.