"Health care is a basic human right. We must work to provide high quality, affordable health care for all Americans."
-Congresswoman Barbara Lee
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Congresswoman Lee believes that access to affordable, quality health care is a fundamental human right has been the cornerstone of my efforts to shape health care reform legislation. As immediate past chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, she worked to secure the creation of Offices of Minority Health, increased funding for community health centers, reduced health disparities for underserved communities, and expanded access to primary health care to help the most vulnerable. As current Chair of the Health Task Force for the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, she has sought to advance initiatives that will improve health care access for Asians, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders—and all communities of color.
As access to health care expands with the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Congresswoman Lee will work to make quality, affordable health care a reality for everyone. She believes very strongly that any such reform effort must do away with our current broken system of care, and should instead be rebuilt around a system of care which guarantees choice in doctors, provides coverage for pre-existing conditions, helps eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities and provides for substantial new investments to train a new generation of health professionals while upgrading and expanding the availability of health facilities throughout our nation.
As a member of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Congresswoman Lee has also been instrumental in closing the huge gap in coverage and access through my support of the following initiatives:
- Supporting Community Health Centers: Increasing funding for health centers to expand high-quality primary and preventive care services in underserved communities in every state, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Territories.
- Supporting the Prevention and Public Health Fund: Increase support for states and communities to prioritize the prevention of chronic and acute conditions, and ultimately lower long-term health.
- Expanding Funding for Medical Research and Innovation: Increase funding for lifesaving research into diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and diabetes, as well as the causes of and effective interventions to achieve health disparity elimination, so that the National Institutes of Health can capitalize on new scientific opportunities and begin to restore America’s position as a leader in medical research.
- Protecting Public Health: Increase funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support core public health functions at the Federal, State, and local levels, including responding to urgent public health threats.
- Protecting Safety Net Programs: Programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Ryan White Program – including the Minority AIDS Initiative and the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs – each play a vital role in ensuring that our nation’s most medically and financially needy and vulnerable populations have access to needed health care services and treatments.
- The Healthcare Workforce Diversity and Development Programs: Numerous studies suggest that increasing the racial and ethnic diversity within the nation’s health care workforce, and offering health care providers incentives to practice in medically underserved communities would play integral roles in reducing health disparities. The healthcare workforce diversity and development efforts under Title VII and VIII – such as the Health Careers Opportunity Program, Area Health Education Centers, nursing education, practice and retention, as well as faculty loan programs, and scholarships for disadvantaged students –will help reduce long-term direct and indirect health care costs in this nation by ensuring that our nation’s most medically needy communities have regular and reliable access to primary health care providers, as well as a health care home.