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
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05), joined by U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins (WV-03), U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02) and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (OH-13), today introduced bipartisan legislation repealing the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) released the following statement today after President Trump signed an executive order designed to sabotage health insurance markets and increase premiums for Americans with pre-existing conditions:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) today expressed disappointment with Graham-Cassidy supporters U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam, offering another point of view that aligns with provider, hospital and disease advocacy groups all over America.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) issued the following statement after Senate Republicans voted to advance legislation that would undermine health care coverage for millions of Americans:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today made the following statement after Senate Republicans announced they will postpone a vote on their health care bill:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today released the following statement on the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s cost estimate of Trumpcare:
“Now we know for sure: This is a disaster,” Rep. Cooper said. “Obamacare provided 20 million Americans with health insurance. Three weeks after House Republicans passed Trumpcare, we find out 23 million will lose coverage. Earlier estimates were right, but they voted for it anyway. How does this make America healthier?”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, questioning the Senate’s current approach to the debate over health care.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today issued the following statement:
“I proudly voted against Trumpcare,” Rep. Cooper said. “This Republican bill is a national tragedy. Millions of Americans will lose health coverage and protections. Lives will be lost, and Congress will regret the vote. I pray the Senate will reject this reckless plan.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) issued the following statement as House Republicans worked toward a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act this week.
WASHINGTON – Days after House Republicans failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) issued a statement in support of Insure Tennessee.
“Speaker Ryan said: ‘Obamacare is the law of the land.’ Kansas and other states with Republican legislatures are working toward Medicaid expansion,” Rep. Cooper said. “It’s time to stop the bickering, help our neighbors and pass Insure Tennessee. There is no excuse for inaction.”