America is the richest country on earth, and there is no reason that all of our citizens shouldn’t have access to first-rate and reasonably priced health care. I strongly believe that all 325 million Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care.
Health care must be a right, not a privilege for the few. In the years before health care reform, one out of three Americans under 65 years old went without health insurance at some point — often putting off medical appointments and going without the screenings and treatments they needed. This was concerning to me not only for those Americans whose health was deteriorating, but also for younger Americans who could not access screening and diagnostics for costly chronic diseases early.
As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, I was proud to help write the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, New Jersey reached its lowest level of uninsured residents in nearly a quarter of a century. In New Jersey, more than 250,000 residents enrolled in private coverage under the Affordable Care Act and most qualified for a tax credit to help off-set the cost of premiums. At the beginning of 2020, 1.7 million New Jerseyans were enrolled in Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act also holds insurance companies accountable for rate increases, ends annual and lifetime limits on coverage, and allows young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.
In addition to expanding insurance coverage to millions of new Americans, the Affordable Care Act ended the rampant discrimination and abuse that existed in the health insurance market, which prevented adults and children with pre-existing conditions from being able to get insurance and allowed women to be charged higher premiums than men. Access to health care should be equitable for all Americans. Race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, age, or disability should not determine one’s ability to obtain quality, affordable health care. That’s why I introduced the Researching and Ending Disparities by Understanding and Creating Equity (REDUCE) Act, legislation aimed at reducing health care disparities among disadvantaged groups.
We must work together to make our health care system more efficient and affordable. We have fought against attempts in the courts by Donald Trump and legislatively by the Republican Congress to dismantle and undermine this law designed to create stability in the health care system and relieve tensions caused by health care costs. I strongly support improving the ACA to make health care coverage universal. One key way is creating a public option and expanding Medicare and Medicaid. We need to make our health care system about quality of care instead of the quantity of procedures. I will continue to fight to ensure that in this country, health care is a right, not a privilege.