All New Jerseyans are deeply affected by our health care system. Throughout Senator Menendez’s tenure in Congress, he has consistently fought to help New Jerseyans afford the health care they deserve and to help spur the medical breakthroughs that will cure our most debilitating diseases. This work includes helping to ensure that middle class and working families can afford something as basic as taking their children to the doctor for routine checkups. It also includes standing up for stem cell research so that there is hope for families, like his, affected by devastating diseases like Alzheimer's.
With millions of families throughout our nation unable to find or afford quality health care coverage, reforming our health insurance industry was imperative. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Menendez was instrumental in shaping health insurance reform, securing provisions he authored to end insurance industry abuses, promote women and children’s health, and provide for a robust health care delivery system to meet the needs of all New Jerseyans. Thanks to his efforts, the new health reform law includes provisions he authored to: cap out-of-pocket expenses for middle class families, ensure coverage for behavioral health services for conditions such as autism, support new mothers who suffer from post-partum depression, ensure Community Health Centers have adequate resources needed to serve the community, and provide equitable payments to New Jersey hospitals.
Senator Menendez strongly believes that all Americans regardless of age, race, gender or socioeconomic status, should have access to affordable comprehensive health care. He will continue to stand up for policy solutions that will strengthen America's health care system by increasing both access and quality, while reducing costs.
- Health Care Reform. Fought for the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This law will ensure that families and individuals throughout New Jersey have access to quality, affordable health insurance coverage. Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to drop coverage after a serious diagnosis, deny coverage based on a preexisting condition, or place arbitrary limits on annual and lifetime coverage. Additionally, thanks to health reform, Medicare is providing coverage for annual wellness visits and preventive screenings for things such as breast, cervical, colon and prostate cancers, cholesterol and cardiovascular health, flu shots and diabetes, at no out-of-pocket cost to seniors. In the first eight months of 2012, 686,718 seniors have received one of these free services. Additionally, New Jersey seniors are already benefiting from reduced costs in their prescriptions, particularly those who fell into the coverage gap, known as the “donut hole”. Since 2010, New Jersey seniors have saved more than $218.47 million on prescription drug costs, averaging $850 in savings per senior. By 2020, the “donut hole” will be closed entirely.
- Community Health Centers. Authored the key provision in health reform to ensure Federally Qualified Health Centers, including the 20 community health centers in New Jersey, can continue providing high quality care. This provision will ensure that private health insurance companies reimburse the health centers at a reasonable rate for the services they provide, regardless of whether or not the health center is considered “in network.” This will allow health centers to remain financially viable while also ensuring that people enrolled in a qualified health plan are free to seek care at their local health center to receive care.
- Autism. As the leading autism advocate in the Senate, authored the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA; P.L. 112-32), which was signed into law by President Obama on September 30, 2011. The CARA reauthorized for an additional three years the critical autism programs established with the Combating Autism Act of 2006, and will ensure the continuation of programs relating to the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, provide for further biomedical research on potential environmental causes and allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor the disorder’s growing prevalence. Additionally, by providing for the continuation of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, the CARA ensures that federal resources are efficiently and effectively utilized.
- Postpartum Depression. Authored the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, which was included as part of the health reform law, to help provide support services to women suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis and to help educate mothers and their families about these conditions. In addition, the bill supports research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum depression and psychosis.
- Patient Navigators. Authored law enacted in 2005 creating the bipartisan Patient Navigator, Outreach and Chronic Disease Prevention program. This program established individual "navigators" to ensure patients understand and can successfully navigate our health care system. By encouraging people to visit doctors earlier, patient navigators help increase early detection, ensuring patients receive proper treatment before an illness progresses, improving outcomes and reducing the cost of care.
- Alzheimer's Disease. Co-sponsored the National Alzheimer’s Project Act which was signed into law on January 4, 2011. Senator Menendez knows first-hand the devastation Alzheimer’s can have on a family, which is why he continues to be a leading voice in the Senate against this debilitating disease. This law created the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care and Services to provide the Secretary of Health and Human Services with detailed recommendations on how to most efficiently and effectively focus research efforts into the disease, as well as into the best evidence-based treatment and care options for those suffering with the disease and their families. Additionally, Senator Menendez continues to fight for critical funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and supports legislation to improve the diagnosis and treatment of this debilitating disease. He is the recipient of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Humanitarian Award in recognition of his ongoing work to improve federal response to Alzheimer’s disease.
- Children's Health Coverage. Fought for protections in the new health insurance law to provide families with protection against insurance company abuses, such as denying children health insurance due to a preexisting condition. Additionally, he had language included in the health reform law that ensures the availability of child-only policies on the health insurance exchange, ensuring that all children have access to quality insurance options.
- Children’s Health Insurance Program. Led the 2008 and 2009 Senate efforts to protect and expand federal investment in New Jersey's FamilyCare children's health insurance program. New Jersey's strong program was targeted repeatedly by amendments aiming to reduce its federal support, but Senator Menendez led the effort that overcame each of them. This program helps ensure that children from families that fall in the health coverage abyss between Medicaid and private insurance have access to quality and affordable health care. In 2009, a strong children's health insurance reauthorization was enacted into law.
- Stem Cell Research. Co-sponsored the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which would allow federal funding for research on embryonic stem cells. These are the most promising stem cells, which could lead to breakthroughs in the fight against many of our worst diseases and conditions.
- Drug-Resistant Staph Infection. Authored a legislative package to prevent and combat the devastating drug-resistant staph infection known as MRSA. The Worker Infection Protection Act would create a new Occupational, Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard to protect employees who are exposed to drug resistant infections, such as MRSA. The MRSA Infection Prevention and Patient Protection Act would create a MRSA prevention program for hospitals and would require hospitals to screen high-risk patients for the infection. Additionally, health reform created incentives for hospitals to reduce healthcare-associated infections.
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