Everyone should be able to see a doctor and get the care they need, regardless of how much they earn. For too long, the cost of health care has had devastating effects on families across our nation. Like many Americans, health care is a deeply personal issue for me. Several years ago, my sister-in-law, Barb, was diagnosed with cancer. Although both Barb and her husband worked full-time, they couldn’t afford health insurance. When Barb got sick, they couldn’t afford the most effective cancer treatment she needed, and she passed away.
A few months after my sister-in-law passed away, my brother Danny was diagnosed with cancer. Danny’s insurance would not cover his treatment. Danny passed away as well, leaving behind his wife and two daughters.
Since passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we’ve seen real improvements in health care delivery. These improvements include providing free preventative care, expanding Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans, eliminating pre-existing condition discrimination, ending lifetime limits on care, and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26.
Even with these improvements, there is still more work to be done. Health insurance premiums continue to rise, particularly for small business owners and the self-employed, and too many people in Illinois are covered but struggle to afford the high premiums and deductibles associated with their insurance plans.
We must bring down the high price of prescription drugs, which is why I co-sponsored a number of bills to increase transparency with drug pricing and to allow price negotiations, which will bring down drug costs for everyone.
I know that the devastating effects of the COVID-19 crisis have made these fights more urgent. That is why I helped pass the $8.3 billion Coronavirus Funding Package. This package–and my work to help those struggling from COVID–is focused on supporting our state and local governments, investing in the development of treatments and vaccines and funding key stakeholders, like small businesses and our small and rural clinics. I have taken this focus directly to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, pushing the Secretary to expand access in rural communities and, through my Social Determinants Health Accelerator Act, address broader social factors that lead to negative health outcomes, particularly those impacting communities of color.
So here’s the bottom line: I will always keep fighting to address the unique healthcare challenges facing our district and our communities, particularly our rural areas. Hardworking families deserve access to affordable, quality care, and I will continue to support and sponsor legislation that does just that.