Health Care Reform
Historically, our health care system has cost too much, didn’t cover enough people, and incentivized inefficiencies. With these concerns in mind, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as the ACA. The primary goal of the ACA was to increase access to affordable health care for the medically uninsured and underinsured.
Starting in October 2013, individuals began signing up for health insurance through the state health insurance exchanges established by the ACA – websites where individual consumers and small businesses could compare and shop for health insurance plans available in their state. Five key provisions of the law came into effect at the start of 2014: the individual mandate; pre-existing condition coverage; employer mandate; subsidies; and online health insurance exchanges. Further, the law enhanced the quality of healthcare for those on Medicare and disallowed health insurance providers from denying individuals coverage based on preexisting conditions. It closed the Medicare drug coverage gap known as the “donut hole” and allowed recent college graduates to remain on their parent’s health insurance plan.
Though the ACA was by no means a cure-all to challenges faced in the health care sector, it has provided a good opportunity to begin to rein in excessive costs, improve quality of care, and expand access. Moving forward, we must continue to monitor how these policies are implemented and make adjustments as necessary. One of the most challenging aspects will continue to be keeping costs under control, as well as diligent implementation of programs designed to meet this goal. For instance, the ACA contains a number of opportunities for meaningful changes to our inefficient fee-for-service system, but these changes must be aggressively implemented.
Health Information Technology
Advancing and streamlining our nation's health information technology system is one way in which to increase efficiency, as well as to improve the quality of care and reduce overall health care costs. In spite of providing the most advanced medical care in the world, America's healthcare system is overly reliant on paper-based prescription and record keeping techniques that are expensive, inefficient, and sometimes lead to fatal healthcare mistakes. Inadequate health information has resulted in medical errors, misdiagnosis, and needless test duplications that increase costs and reduce the overall quality of health care.
Health Information Technology (Health IT) has been a part of several important bills signed into law. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included nearly $26 billion for hospitals and physicians to implement and improve health IT. Additionally, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act included certain requirements around health IT in health care facilities and provided a grant program for long-term care facilities to purchase, lease, develop, and implement certified electronic health record technology. Much more remains to be done to implement best use of health IT around the country and I am committed to ensuring that Congress does its part to ensure the success of health IT.
Personal health decisions should be left between women, their doctor, and their family; not the United States Congress. In recent years, we have seen numerous attacks on women’s health through efforts to limit access to contraception and reproductive services. I will continue to support and advocate for policies that protect women’s right to choose and improve access to family planning services.
Prescription Drug Pricing
Access and affordability of prescription drugs is critical for our health care system. It is important that consumers are able to obtain affordable prescription drug coverage in a way that better regulates drug companies rather than passing the costs onto working Americans. I support funding and increasing the availability of resources for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure timely, but thorough research, and testing of products like generic prescription drugs and am committed to ensuring the FDA has the personnel, procedures and equipment necessary to protect consumers and improve the drug approval process.
I also support changes to and legislation that helps lower the cost of prescription drugs by attempting to incentivize more competition within the market. I will continue to work to enact policies that will help keep necessary medical treatments within reach for all those who need them.
For more information on this issue, sign up to receive Congressman Smith’s email updates.
More on Health Care
“Our current tax code is overly-complex; there is no question it needs reexamination and overhaul. The tax proposal released today by President Trump would be disastrous. Its almost singular focus on cutting taxes for wealthy people and companies will harm working people and undermine a healthy economy.
“I am strongly opposed to the Republican plan to replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ‘Obamacare.’ This legislation, known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), introduced earlier this month, would take health insurance away from millions of people, hurt low-income and older Americans, and create considerable uncertainty about health care and insurance.
Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith will host a Town Hall on Saturday, March 4, 2017 in Seattle. Congressman Smith is looking forward to meeting with constituents and hearing all questions and concerns.
Who: Congressman Adam Smith
What: Rep. Smith is hosting a Town Hall event where constituents can meet and interact with the Congressman and voice concerns on issues of the budget, immigration, education, the economy, national security and more.
When: Saturday, March 4, 2017, 10:00 am to 11:30 am
Congressman Smith to Host Town Hall in Seattle
The beginning of a new year is a time to reflect on both our accomplishments during the last year, as well as an opportunity to consider thoughtful questions about what the future may hold.
“In reinstating the Global Gag Rule as one of his first executive orders, President Donald Trump has undone years of progress. International family planning programs are very important for fostering manageable and healthy families around the world. By supporting international family planning efforts, we can help families around the world avoid extreme poverty, lack of access to health care, educational, and economic opportunities. Even without this step backwards, U.S.
I want to serve my constituents in any way I can. Whether you need help with a federal agency, are trying to find out if federal grants are available for your project, or are considering applying to a service academy, my staff and I are accessible for those who need assistance.
“Under current law, pharmaceutical companies holding a patent for a drug can develop, distribute, and market what is known as an Authorized Generic (AG) through a privileged process provided in the Hatch-Waxman Act (PL 98-417) that allows the brand-name company to introduce and begin sales of a generic product, rather than going through the ‘Abbreviated New Drug Application’ process that third-party generics must pursue.
“Today the Supreme Court struck down two provisions of a dangerous anti-abortion law in Texas by a vote of 5 to 3. In the case of Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, a group of Texas abortion clinics and three doctors argued that a Texas state law requiring health providers have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and perform abortions in ambulatory surgical centers was overly burdensome.
“The House Armed Services Committee is maintaining its bipartisan tradition. We worked through a lot of issues throughout the mark-up process, including a number of very controversial provisions. We crafted legislation the way it is supposed to be done. We held productive debates, disagreed, voted, and at the end of the process we passed a very significant piece of legislation.