Improving Access to Affordable and Quality Health Care
Senator Lautenberg believes every American should have access to affordable, quality health care, and he worked with President Obama and colleagues in Congress to pass major health reform legislation to accomplish this goal. Senator Lautenberg has been fighting to reduce health care costs, improve and expand programs that have a proven record of providing access to affordable health insurance for working families, and focus our health care system on preventing disease rather than simply treating it.
Focus on New Jersey
Senator Lautenberg has consistently fought to ensure that New Jerseyans have access to health care and state-of-the-art facilities in our state. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he has secured millions of dollars for hospitals and mobile medical facilities in New Jersey, and research for cancer, autism, diabetes and other diseases.
Senator Lautenberg successfully fought off attempts to eliminate health care for thousands of New Jersey kids under the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and pushed to expand the CHIP program to cover even more children in New Jersey. He also successfully fought for continued access to New Jersey's successful PAAD and Senior Gold prescription drug programs for 200,000 New Jersey seniors during the Medicare prescription drug coverage debate in 2003. He has authored legislation that would increase prevention and treatment of diabetes in minority communities and to eliminate the Medicare prescription drug "donut hole," arguing that seniors should not have to choose between paying electric and grocery bills and paying for medication.
Senator Lautenberg signs his name to a pledge to push the federal government to do more for cancer research. Lautenberg is seen here meeting with the New Jersey delegation who were in Washington, D.C. to participate in the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network Celebration on the Hill. (September 20, 2006)
In March 2010, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The health reform law allows those who are satisfied with their insurance to keep the coverage they have, improves coverage for those who are not satisfied with their current coverage, and expands coverage to millions of Americans who are unable to access quality, affordable insurance.
Several benefits of the new law go into effect in 2010:
In addition, the law provides long-term benefits:
Senator Lautenberg has been one of the strongest supporters in Congress of upholding a woman's right to choose. He is also the author of the Responsible Education about Life (REAL) Act to provide funding for comprehensive sex education, and the Access to Birth Control (ABC) Act that would prohibit pharmacies from denying a person's access to contraception.
Senator Lautenberg has fought to permanently repeal the "global gag rule" on federally funded family planning organizations and to ensure that women have access to affordable birth control at university-based and safety-net health care clinics. Senator Lautenberg has also secured funding for research on heart disease, breast cancer and other diseases through the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.
Fighting Big Tobacco
Senator Lautenberg wrote the law banning smoking on airplanes, protecting individuals from deadly secondhand smoke and triggering a broader smoke-free revolution, as well as a ban on smoking in federally-funded places that serve children.
Senator Lautenberg also led the fight to prevent tobacco companies from misleading smokers into thinking that so-called "light cigarettes" are healthier than regular cigarettes. After years of pressure from Lautenberg, the federal government announced in late 2008 that tobacco companies could not use a previously-authorized but faulty test to determine whether cigarettes should be considered "light" or "low-tar."
As part of the fight against smoker deception, Senator Lautenberg cosponsored and helped to pass the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which authorized the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate tobacco products. This landmark law includes a complete ban on using descriptors such as "light," "mild," or "low" in cigarette labeling or advertising to protect public health and prevent manufacturers from misleading smokers with packaging and advertising of "light" products. Among other key provisions, the law permits FDA to restrict the sale and distribution of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to protect youth and require larger, more explicit health warnings on product packages.
In 2010, Senator Lautenberg introduced the Smuggled Tobacco Prevention (STOP) Act, which helps states and the federal government increase their tobacco tax receipts without raising taxes and keeps cheap, smuggled tobacco out of the hands of our children. He has also called for more stringent regulation of electronic cigarettes.
Better Health and Quality of Life
Senator Lautenberg was an original cosponsor of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows people to take time off work to care for sick children or parents. He also coauthored and helped secure funding for the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides health care services to more than 44,000 New Jersey HIV/AIDS patients.