The security of health care should not be a privilege for a fortunate few, but a right for every American. The health and wellness of the American people reflects the health of our nation, both physically and financially.
The cost of healthcare has gone up more quickly than inflation, making it difficult for families and businesses to keep up. The Affordable Care Act is curbing the growth of health care costs, giving patients more control over their care, and providing coverage to millions of Americans who otherwise would not have access to health care. I am committed to continue improving the health of our country now.
If we are serious about improving the economy, we must control health care costs and promote a healthy, productive populace. The best way to do that is to reverse the staggering growth of chronic diseases and invest in public health prevention that keep people healthy in the first place. In the 20th century, we made tremendous strides improving infant and maternal mortality rates, reducing smoking, ensuring the safety and health of our food supply chain, and immunizing more infants. I have helped lead many of these improvements and will continue to support public health and health care, which not only save millions of lives but secures our nation’s health and stability.
The Affordable Care Act expands access to quality health care, improves the insurance market, and protects individuals from the worst abuses of the insurance industry. As a result of this law, 20 million Americans have gained health insurance coverage—including one million in Illinois. Insurers can no longer discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, young people are able to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26, and seniors receive important discounts on their prescription drugs. However, too many Americans still struggle with high out-of-pocket health costs, whether on monthly insurance premiums or at the pharmacy counter when they fill their prescriptions.
Senator Durbin is committed to finding constructive ways to improve our nation’s health care system, expand access to quality and affordable health care, and reduce costs for middle-class families. To do so, Senator Durbin has fought against attempts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, supported and protected the expansion of the Medicaid program for families of modest means, cosponsored legislation to protect Medicare for today’s seniors while also allowing more individuals to take part in the program, and helped introduce legislation that would give Americans the option to enroll in a public health insurance plan. Senator Durbin has also made it a priority to end abusive pricing practices by the pharmaceutical industry to give patients a break at the pharmacy counter. Senator Durbin believes that health care is a fundamental right for all, not a privilege for the wealthy few.
The U.S. health care system is only as good as the science behind it. Investments in medical research produce breakthroughs that ease suffering and lead to improved treatments and even cures for today’s most debilitating conditions. If America is going to remain the world’s leader in cutting-edge biomedical research, federal funding for medical research has to be a national priority. For the past many years, Senator Durbin has introduced the American Cures Act, which would ensure a steady annual funding increase equal to five percent real growth for the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense Health Program, and the Veterans Medical and Prosthetics Research Program.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, with cigarette smoking killing more than 480,000 Americans each year. Exposure to secondhand smoke leads to nearly 42,000 deaths from lung cancer or heart disease each year.
As a member of the House of Representatives, Senator Durbin led the effort to ban smoking on airplanes. This legislation made airplane flights more convenient, safe, and comfortable. It was the catalyst that led many to begin questioning the safety of smoking in offices, hospitals, schools, restaurants, and bars. To further reduce tobacco use among youth, Senator Durbin has introduced bills to raise the federal tobacco purchase age to 21 and close loopholes to ensure the federal tax on tobacco remains an effective public health tool.
The use of e-cigarettes among our nation’s kids is on the rise. This is why Senator Durbin has introduced bipartisan legislation to crack down on e-cigarette companies that target children with kid-friendly flavors (sugar cookie, tutti fruitti, gummy bear) and marketing tactics. Senator Durbin’s SAFE Kids Act would give these companies one year to prove that their products do not result in more children vaping or smoking, do not harm the user, and actually help adults quit smoking cigarettes.