Ensuring quality, affordable health care for all Americans
The passage of the landmark health care reform law in 2010 represented a milestone in the expansion of access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans. However, there is still much work to be done, and there are steps we can take to improve health care reform. Senator Coons believes the landmark reform law should not be an end, but a new foundation for a healthy future. In addition, investing in innovative, cutting-edge scientific research is critical to discovering the next generation of cures that will save lives and reduce costs. Senator Coons’ health care priorities include:
- Improving the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The health reform law expanded coverage opportunities for millions of Americans. The Supreme Court 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.
- In the 114th Congress, Senator Coons introduced the Small Business Tax Credit Accessibility Act to expand tax credits that help small businesses provide health insurance for employees and their families. He 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 is a cosponsor of the Commonsense Reporting Act, which would simplify and streamline employer reporting requirements, and the Small Business Healthcare Relief Act, which would allow small businesses to provide Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) to employees with health insurance.
- In the 113th Congress, he cosponsored legislation to exempt volunteer fire companies – including the 60 in Delaware - from the ACA’s employer mandate.
- Supporting research on pulmonary fibrosis. Pulmonary fibrosis is a relentlessly progressive, ultimately fatal disease that affects the lungs and a person’s ability to breathe. There is no known cause of pulmonary fibrosis, it has no cure, and there are currently no FDA-approved treatments. Most patients with pulmonary fibrosis live only three to five years after being diagnosed. Senator Coons was proud to carry the torch from former Republican Congressman Mike Castle from Delaware and become the lead champion for pulmonary fibrosis in Congress. He has advocated for additional research funding for pulmonary fibrosis and funding for fibrosis across organs, an effort which resulted in the National Institutes of Health’s launching of a new competitive grant funding opportunity to study fibrosis across organs in 2015. He also worked with Senator Kirk of Illinois to designate September 2015 as “Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month.”
- 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. In 2015, he introduced 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.
- 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 or 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 an unprecedented number of 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 will continue to advocate for increased funding for the NIH.