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 the 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; as well as raising awareness and increasing research into the causes and treatments for autism.
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.
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.
- Reforming our Health Care System. Fought for the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and working to ensure New Jerseyans can enroll and receive the benefits they need. 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. 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.”
- Protecting 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.
- Leading Autism Advocate. Led Senate effort to reauthorize autism programs and sponsored legislation to help autistic young people “aging out” of existing education and support systems. With New Jersey experiencing some of the nation’s highest diagnosis of autism at 1 in every 49 children, Senator Menendez has become the Senate’s leading autism advocate. Most recently, he introduced the Assistance in Gaining Experience, Independence and Navigation (AGE-IN) Act of 2013 to make sure the end of high school does not mean the end of the support and skills training autistic young adults need to succeed in the new world of adulthood.
He also introduced the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) in the Senate, 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 in the Combating Autism Act of 2006. This reauthorization ensures the continuation of programs relating to the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, provides for further biomedical research on potential environmental causes and allows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor the disorder’s growing prevalence.
Additionally, Senator Menendez continues to raise awareness about young people “aging out” of the system, partnering with documentary filmmakers to help them gain access to Newark’s John F. Kennedy High School, which has been providing public education exclusively for special needs students for more than 40 years. The film, “Best Kept Secret,” follows a teacher, her autistic students and their families as they graduate and age-out of school-based supports.
- Helping Families with Special Needs Children. Introduced the Family to Family (F2F) Act, which would extend funding for family-to-family health information centers to help the families of children with disabilities or special health care needs make informed choices about health care for their children. New Jersey is home to one of the nation’s leading F2Fs and, at the end of 2012, Senator Menendez championed a successful funding extension in the fiscal cliff deal.
- Raising Postpartum Depression Awareness. Authored the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, which was included as part of the health reform law, to 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.
- Helping Ease Suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. Cosponsored 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 supported 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.
- Extending Children's Health Coverage. Fought for protections in the health insurance law to provide families with protection against insurance company abuses, such as denying children health insurance due to a preexisting condition. Additionally, Senator Menendez included language in the health reform law that ensures the availability of child-only policies on the health insurance exchange so 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.
- Raising Awareness about Cardiomyopathy. Introduced the Cardiomyopathy Health Education, Awareness, Risk Assessment, and Training in the Schools (HEARTS) Act that would require health organizations to develop educational materials and resources regarding cardiomyopathy.
- Expanding Research for Tourette Syndrome. Introduced the Collaborative Academic Research Efforts for Tourette Syndrome Act that would expand and intensify data collection on Tourette Syndrome to improve information on the prevalence of the disease. In addition, the bill would establish Centers of Excellence to undertake extensive research into the causes, diagnosis, and prevention of the disease.
- Protecting New Jersey’s 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.
- Supporting Stem Cell Research. Cosponsored 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.
- Helping New Jersey Hospitals. Long-time advocate for funding fairness for New Jersey hospitals. Senator Menendez fought for the extension of the imputed wage index floor for New Jersey, which recognizes the unique all-urban nature of New Jersey and the impact that has on hospital costs and federal reimbursements,
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