I have been working with Republicans in the House of Representatives to bring forth ideas and a plan to not just repeal the destructive parts of Obamacare, but to develop a bold new agenda to offer a comprehensive, practical replacement for this failing system. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately thirty-three million Americans are still living without health care coverage and many more have coverage that does not adequately meet their health care needs. I believe we need to have a constructive and realistic conversation about the future of health care in this country, and lawmakers need to start acknowledging that Obamacare anything but affordable.
Repealing and Replacing Obamacare: I believe that high quality, affordable health coverage should be available to all Americans. The truth is, Obamacare is collapsing under its own weight, especially in Florida, where more people participate in the exchanges than in any other state. With premiums expected to increase 17% this year for Floridians, I gave my word to my constituents who lost their coverage under Obamacare and I gave my word to those who were able to access coverage for the first time regardless of their health status. Six of the nine counties I represent have one choice for health coverage under Obamacare, and I assured them that I would fight to change the status quo. In its current form, the American Health Care Act is not perfect but it is a critical first step in the process of reforming our broken healthcare system. It maintains coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions and gives states more freedom to set policies that suit their citizens while providing monetary assistance and federal oversight to protect patients. This bill may allow the system to operate differently than the top-down, federal government approach of Obamacare, but I believe it will create a market that offers people of all ages and incomes the opportunity to choose from a diverse array of specialized, affordable healthcare options that work best for their family.
Furthering disease research: We have to do more to foster health care innovation in this country. Last year, the House passed the 21st Century Cures Act, bipartisan legislation to increase strategic investments in medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and improve and accelerate how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) executes its regulatory review and approval of new drugs, biologics, and medical devices. As a Member of the Appropriations Committee, I am proud to have supported increased funding for basic research initiatives at the NIH, including an unprecedented increase in funding for Alzheimers disease research. I have also worked to advance precision medicine research and treatments at leading cancer institutions like Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center, where I helped steer resources to help Moffitt continue its development of innovative, accurate, and clinically meaningful diagnostic tests and drugs that treat patients based on their genetic makeup. I have also led efforts in Congress to help prevent shortages of critical, life-saving drugs by working with Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) to pass legislation, now law, to give physicians, pharmacists and the FDA early notice of potential drug shortages so they can work to prevent a shortage from occuring or mitigate its impact.
Efforts to support Pro-Life legislation: I hold a fundamental belief that innocent life should be valued and protected, which especially pertains to the life of an unborn child. I am proud of my deeply-rooted pro-life beliefs that are reflected in my 100 percent favorable rating with the National Right to Life, the nation’s oldest and largest pro-life organization. Over the past two years, I have worked to defund Planned Parenthood, pass the federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, support pro-life conscience protections for health care professionals, and to criminalize the sale of aborted fetal tissue. This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Hyde Amendment -- a law that prevents federal funding of abortion and has saved over two million lives since its enactment in 1976. I am proud to serve on the House Appropriations Committee, where I fight alongside my fellow pro-life conservatives to ensure that the Hyde Amendment and its related policies are renewed in our appropriations bills each and every year.
I am proud to serve as founder and Co-Chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Lupus Caucus, which provides a forum for Members of Congress to work toward improving quality of life for people with lupus and their caregivers by supporting the advancement of lupus research and increasing awareness of lupus among the public and health professionals. I am also proud to serve as a Co-Chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Brain Injury Task Force which serves as a clearinghouse of information for Congress and the public about Traumatic Brain Injuries which affect 3.2 million Americans, many of which are our veterans who have served over seas. The Task Force promotes full funding for the TBI Act and other brain injury research programs, and provides guidance to federal agencies on policies and proposed rulemakings.