The Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare”
For decades, I have worked hard to reform our nation’s broken health care system. In 2010, I voted for a comprehensive health care reform bill, the Affordable Care Act, to provide better care and lower costs over time. The Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, and it doesn’t solve all our health care problems, but it’s an important first step. Like any other major legislation in Congress, we should continue to make improvements to the law.
Elements of the new law are being phased in over several years, and we’ve already seen a lot of changes. Children with pre-existing conditions such as asthma are no longer denied coverage. As of 2014, no one can be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition.
More: View an interactive timeline of all of the changes, key features of the law, and other information on the law’s roll-out
Medicare is a vital and sacred program, but it’s on a fiscally unsustainable course. According to the Social Security and Medicare Actuaries, the Medicare Trust Fund will be exhausted in 2030. We must keep it strong and sustainable for our seniors and for future generations.
In order to protect Medicare, we must first know how it works. My bill, the Medicare Information Act, would provide every American with an annual snapshot of their lifetime contributions and a summary of their estimated benefits. Many people don’t realize that they will likely withdraw much more from Medicare than they paid in.
More: To view how Medicare is financed, check out this website.
It’s important to find waste and abuse in the Medicare system, and that’s why I am a co-sponsor of the Preventing and Reducing Improper Medicare Expenditures (PRIME) Act. The PRIME Act would enact stronger penalties for Medicare and Medicaid fraud, curb improper or mistaken Medicare and Medicaid payments, improve waste and fraud prevention strategies and improve the sharing of anti-fraud data across state and federal agencies and programs.
Expanding health insurance to more Tennesseans is the right thing to do for patients, hospitals and businesses, and I am a strong supporter of Governor Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan. Our state legislature made a terrible mistake in turning down the Governor’s plan; Tennesseans will die and hospitals will close as a result of these votes.
A new report says Tennesseans’ health is even worse than we thought. This must become a top priority for the state legislature. We need Insure Tennessee more than ever.
Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse is a large and ever-growing problem that drives up health care costs, takes lives, and eats away at communities. Tragically, Tennessee remains one of the most over-medicated states in the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently took note of an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, finding one-third of Tennesseans fill a prescription for an opioid each year. The risks of addiction and overdose are all too real.
We’re lucky to have organizations like Centerstone and the Oasis Center nearby. They are saving lives. It’s also encouraging that the Davidson County Drug Court, one of the nation’s first, has proven so effective. And I’m proud that the health care reform law takes huge steps towards expanding mental health and substance abuse coverage. But more work needs to be done in this area to make sure outdated rules aren't preventing people from getting help.
Promoting Innovation & Accessibility
Innovation and accessibility are vital to improving the quality of our health care system. From new electronic medical records that will streamline patient care to continuing research for cures to disease and access to the most effective medicines, we must continue finding ways to make the system better.
I also support initiatives to increase awareness, access to treatments and research for major health problems like diabetes and cancer.
Investing in Scientific and Health Care Research
Basic science, the seed corn of innovation, is primarily supported by the federal government — not industry, which is typically more interested in applied research and development. But at a time when other countries are increasing investments in science and technology, basic science is at risk.
I’ve supported increases for NIH funding for years and helped launch national awards in 2012 to promote major breakthroughs from science and medical research.
More: Read all about the “Golden Goose Awards”
Did you know that current law does not require researchers to study female animals when conducting basic medical research? Science should not discriminate against women, which is why I’ve introduced the "Research for All Act," which would require the inclusion and separate analysis of both male and female animals, tissues and cells in basic research conducted and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Better research leads to better outcomes, which is why I was pleased to see NIH announce a new rule in June 2015 to include sex as a biological variable in future research.
Links & Additional Resources
Health Care Law - Explore both private and public health coverage options and learn more about the new health care law.
Plan choices for small businesses - A resource on insurance plan choices for small business owners.
Food Safety - Get alerts on life-saving food recalls and helpful tips for keeping food safe, from the trusted source for food safety information.
My Medicare - Medicare's free, secure online service for accessing personalized information regarding your Medicare benefits and services.
Insure Kids - Find Tennessee-specific information about health insurance coverage for children under Medicaid and CoverKids, Tennessee’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Let's Move for Healthier Children - Join America’s move to raise a healthier generation of kids. Tennessee ranks fifth in the nation for overweight or obese children.
Department of Health & Human Sciences - Engage with the HHS as it makes its operations more transparent to the public.
Hospital Compare – Compare hospitals in your area based on patient feedback and quality of care measures.
Nursing Home Comparison – Detailed information about every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country.
Stop Medicare Fraud – Learn how to prevent and report Medicare fraud.
More on Health Care
NASHVILLE – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today announced his IssueWatch project, a twice-weekly online newsletter dedicated to Middle Tennesseans interested in important congressional updates and other major happenings in Washington.
Knowledge is power, but it’s never been more important to stay informed. Sign-up for IssueWatch, a twice-weekly online newsletter dedicated to Middle Tennesseans interested in following important congressional news and other major happenings in Washington.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today voted against a Republican budget that increases the national debt by $9.5 trillion and sets the table for full repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.
Passed now by the House and Senate, the measure jeopardizes access to health care for an estimated 231,705 Tennesseans, according to maps published by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
This week, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation released new interactive maps that show 2016 Marketplace enrollees by congressional district. In 2016 alone, more than 230,000 Tennesseans signed up for healthcare coverage through the Marketplace.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today issued a statement in reaction to Blue Cross Blue Shield leaving the health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act in Nashville and other areas in Tennessee.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) and other members of the Blue Dog Coalition this week endorsed a bill that could prevent dramatic drug price hikes seen recently with the EpiPen and other medicines.
Cooper is a cosponsor of the Lower Drug Costs Through Competition Act. The bill would help streamline the FDA approval process on generic drugs. It also would encourage competition by providing incentives for more generic drugs to come to the market.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) today issued a statement after voting against a bill that only funds one-third of President Obama’s emergency funding request to fight the Zika virus.
“We need to do much more to fight Zika. We should fully fund our fight to defeat Zika,” Rep. Cooper said. “House Republicans aren't even doing as much as the Senate to keep Americans safe. We must recognize Zika as the potential epidemic that it is and stop it cold now.”
The House bill would provide $622.1 million in funding.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today issued the following statement after state lawmakers announced a legislative task force to address access to health care:
“Tennesseans waited two years while Governor Haslam negotiated a plan with the federal government. Then the House never even got a chance to vote on it,” Rep. Cooper said. “Now we have to wait at least another year? Cancer patients don’t have that kind of time.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) today congratulated Jackie Shrago as White House officials highlighted the Nashville resident’s tireless efforts to enroll Tennesseans into health plans established by the Affordable Care Act.
“Jackie represents the best of Nashville,” Rep. Cooper said. “She looks out for her neighbors. She’s a vigorous advocate for health care. And she’s selfless. The Affordable Care Act couldn’t have succeeded without heroes like Jackie.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) today issued a statement after President Obama vetoed a Republican bill that would defund the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood.