When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law in March 2010, our country took a giant step forward in making healthcare more affordable and accessible for all, especially middle class and working poor families, individuals with disabilities and chronic diseases, children, and seniors.
There is no question in my mind that we must make improvements to our healthcare system, but this work must always have as its goal the expansion of healthcare to as many Americans as possible. The need for continued health care reform hits close to home: Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured residents in the country, and one of the lowest rates of employer-based coverage. For many of my constituents, the cost of care remains far too high, while for others, access to care remains a challenge. To make matters worse, our nation continues to face disparities in which people are disproportionally affected by diseases as a result of their race, sexual orientation, socio-economic group, and place of residence. I continue to advocate strongly for reforms to improve, expand, and lower the cost of healthcare.
Three decades after it was first reported nationally, HIV/AIDS has proven to be one of the most serious global health concerns in modern history, infecting and affecting people across the lines of race, class, religion, and sexual orientation. In the United States, approximately 1.1 million people are living with HIV/AIDS and an estimated 56,300 Americans are newly infected with HIV each year. Moreover, as a result of health care disparities and other persistent challenges such as stigma and homophobia, new HIV infections are higher among African Americans, Hispanics, and men who have sex with men (MSM) than other groups.
Thanks to the dedication of countless scientists, health care providers, government officials, organizations, and activists, more and more people can live with HIV/AIDS rather than die from it. And while we are closer to realizing an AIDS-free generation than ever before, HIV/AIDS remains a significant public health challenge, with high rates of infection disproportionately impacting many communities.
Although HIV/AIDS knows no borders, the disease has taken a particularly devastating toll on my Congressional district. Florida continues to rank among the top-three states in the nation in reported HIV/AIDS cases. Nearly half of these are concentrated in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Orange Counties, with Broward County having the highest rate of HIV infection per-capita in the country
I will continue working to improve health care services for people living with HIV/AIDS, including within the framework of the Affordable Care Act. Furthermore, I remain committed to supporting the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), the Ryan White Program, and the National AIDS Strategy.
Supporting Medical Research
Over the past decade, our nation’s investment in the National Institute of Health (NIH) and other research agencies has fallen short of what is needed. NIH conducts research that is too expensive and risky for private industry, but has led to major advancements in our understanding of rare diseases. I believe we must sufficiently fund medical research to promote medical breakthroughs and save lives.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. To date, no cure is available and experts estimate that, without action, the number of Alzheimer’s cases will grow to an astounding 16 million by the year 2050. Already the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, the direct cost of this disease and other dementias is expected to exceed $260 million this year. We must make investments in researching a cure for Alzheimer’s disease so that individuals and their families will no longer have to face this debilitating and tragic disease.
Additionally, more than 250,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year among U.S. women. We have made progress in preventing cancer and more accurately diagnosing and treating the disease. Nearly every American knows someone whose life has been affected by this terrible disease. We must continue to fund cancer research so that we can end cancer once and for all.