In March 2010, Congress passed, and the President signed, comprehensive health reform into law. Millions of Americans are already benefiting from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and millions more will benefit from important reforms that take effect next year. To see all of the law's benefits, and learn about the new health insurance options available to California residents beginning October 1, 2013 because of the Affordable Care Act, click here.
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Increasing Access and Reducing Costs
- Giving Patients a Bill of Rights - As one of the first in Congress to recognize HMO abuses, in 1997 Senator Boxer authored a Patients’ Bill of Rights, to ensure that doctors and nurses, not insurance companies, were the ones making medical decisions. Since then, she has continued to fight for the rights of patients to choose their own primary care doctor, to receive medically necessarily care from specialists, and to be able to go to the closest emergency room.
- Reducing the Cost of Health Insurance - Senator Boxer introduced legislation that would allow taxpayers to deduct their health insurance premiums up to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families. She has also introduced a bill that would provide a 50 percent tax credit to small businesses for employer-sponsored health care coverage in states where such coverage is mandated. Additionally, she authored legislation to give every American access to the same health insurance program as Members of Congress.
- Protecting Access to Mental Health Services - Mental illness is a pervasive and potentially devastating health problem that is often treatable, yet many Americans do not receive necessary mental health services because they can’t afford them, their insurance won’t cover them, or because of the stigma associated with them. Senator Boxer is a longtime supporter of legislation, which recently passed, to ensure that Americans facing mental health challenges are fairly treated by their insurance companies. This law prevents insurance plans from making it harder for people to access mental health services by imposing extra fees or limits on benefits.
- HIV/AIDS Research and Treatment - Senator Boxer is a strong supporter of the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides the largest federal investment in community-based HIV/AIDS health care services, and gives critical support to local governments to keep basic programs running. She has fought for increased funding for Ryan White programs and fought to prevent urban areas, including cities in California, from seeing drastic cuts to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment funding.
- Strengthening the Health Care Safety Net - Senator Boxer supports legislation to increase federal investments in programs such as Community Health Centers and the National Health Service Corps, which provides a safety net that helps millions of Americans each year obtain needed health care services. She has also fought against cuts to the Disproportionate Share Hospital Programs that support hospitals which serve mainly uninsured, Medicaid, and Medicare patients.
Preserving Medicare and Protecting Seniors
- Ensuring Doctors Can Treat Medicare Beneficiaries - Senator Boxer has consistently voted against dangerously high pay cuts to doctors that provide services to Medicare beneficiaries, because she is concerned that these cuts would limit seniors’ access to health care. Senator Boxer is also committed to ensuring that Medicare pays doctors on time, because delays in payment threaten thousands of medical practices, and may reduce the access to essential health care services for Californians who rely on Medicare.
- Providing Prescription Drug Coverage - Senator Boxer has been a long-time supporter of providing a comprehensive and affordable Medicare prescription drug benefit for seniors, including provisions that would allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for better drug prices for seniors. During the creation of the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit for seniors, Senator Boxer introduced the first amendments to close a gap in coverage called the “donut hole” that forces some seniors to pay for prescription drugs out of their own pockets without help from Medicare.
- Caring for an Aging America - Senator Boxer introduced legislation to help address the shortage in health care workers trained to meet the needs of older Americans. This bill would establish loan repayment programs for health care professionals who are trained in geriatrics or gerontology and who provide care to older adults in areas where there is a shortage of these important specialists.
- Medicare Eligibility Age - Senator Boxer helped lead the fight to stop a proposed increase in the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67. She voted to stop privatization efforts that would have forced seniors out of Medicare and into HMOs, and continues to fight to ensure that Medicare is preserved.
Protecting Women’s Health
- Expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program to Cover Pregnant Women – Senator Boxer is committed to ensuring all children have access to health care, and is a longtime supporter of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This program provides children from low income families with access to doctors, life-saving prescription drugs, immunizations, preventive screenings and the basic medical care necessary to start life healthy. Senator Boxer introduced and the Senate passed an amendment to the Budget Resolution which provided for the coverage of pregnant women under the Children’s Health Insurance Program to ensure the health of both mother and child.
- Providing Necessary Care for Mothers and Newborns - Senator Boxer cosponsored the Newborn and Mothers Health Protection Act, which was signed into law on September 26, 1996. This law guarantees newborn infants and their mothers a 48 hours hospital stay after birth.
- Ensuring Women’s Access to Preventive Health and Family Planning Services - Senator Boxer has fought to increase access for women to preventive health and family planning services. She has led the effort to increase funding for the Title X family planning program, which provides funding for preventative health care, including contraceptive services, sexually transmitted disease prevention, cervical and breast cancer screenings, and other health services for women in need.
- Protecting A Woman’s Right to Choose - Senator Boxer is a leader in the effort to preserve a woman’s right to choose. She authored the Freedom of Choice Act, which would have codified the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe vs. Wade.
- Helping Women Fight Ovarian Cancer - Senator Boxer introduced legislation to further research and prevention efforts in the fight against ovarian cancer. Her Ovarian Cancer Biomarker Research Act would invest in research to better detect and treat ovarian cancer. The bill would also provide funding for clinical trials to identify effective ovarian cancer biomarkers.
- Furthering Breast Cancer Research – Senator Boxer secured funding for a research project to investigate the high and increasing incidence of breast cancer in Marin County, with the goal of decreasing breast cancer rates locally and nationally.
Making Critical Investments in Research and Public Health
- Investing in Lifesaving Research - In order to make sure that patients continue to benefit from lifesaving research and treatments, Senator Boxer has been a strong supporter of funding for basic health research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
- Stem Cell Research - California enacted the nation’s first law to permit research involving human embryonic and adult stem cells while facilitating the voluntary donation of embryos for stem cell research. Senator Boxer is proud of California’s initiative, but knows it is not nearly enough to fulfill our obligation to work tirelessly to find cures to diseases. She is a strong supporter of federal investment in stem cell research that could help those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, ALS, diabetes, cancer and other diseases.
- Prostate Cancer Research Funding - Senator Boxer introduced the Prostate Research and Men’s Education Act, which would help develop new prostate screening and detection technologies to replace existing methods that lead to many false-negative reassurances or false-positive alarms, both of which can have devastating consequences.
- Eradicating Polio - Senator Boxer has led the effort for continued funding to eradicate polio, and strongly supports efforts at both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to continue to provide critical support for global efforts to eradicate this devastating disease.
Click here to download an informational pocket card that outlines key information about how the Affordable Care Act is benefiting Californians.