Senator Shaheen believes that we must transform our health care system to provide better care at a lower cost. She voted in favor of the 2010 Affordable Care Act because she believes it is an important first step to making essential changes to our health care system.
Already, the health reform law has made a significant impact on the lives of many Americans. No longer can health insurance companies put lifetime dollar limits on health benefits or drop coverage if someone gets sick. Children under 19 can no longer be denied coverage if they have a pre-existing condition, and parents can keep their children on their insurance plans up to age 26. Small businesses across New Hampshire have been able to take advantage of tax credits to help provide insurance for their employees, and seniors have seen a reduction in the price of prescription drugs and now have access to free annual wellness visits with their doctor.
Senator Shaheen recognizes that more work needs to be done to make care affordable and accessible. She remains committed to offering common sense ideas that will improve the quality of care people receive while containing costs.
Quality Care that Controls Costs
Research at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Research has demonstrated that more costly care does not mean better care. Building off of this important premise, Senator Shaheen has authored legislation to make health care delivery more coordinated and efficient.
Prior to the health reform debate, Senator Shaheen introduced the Medicare Transitional Care Act with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). The legislation addressed costly hospital readmissions by providing seniors and their caretakers support during the vulnerable time after discharge from a hospital. Experts estimate the Medicare Transitional Care Act could save up to $5,000 for every Medicare beneficiary affected. Provisions from Senator Shaheen’s bill were included in the Affordable Care Act and signed into law.
Senator Shaheen also authored legislation to reduce overutilization of emergency rooms. Frequent repeat users make up a small but costly portion of emergency room visits and contribute to overcrowding. Studies show that providing these individuals with increased coordination of care and outreach services can result in significant savings to taxpayers. Shaheen’s REDUCE act is based on this successful work.
During the health care reform debate, Senator Shaheen worked with her freshman colleagues on the “Innovation and Value” amendment package that became part of the law. These cost-saving provisions aim to encourage, expand, and expedite delivery reforms and reduce costs for consumers throughout the health care system. Specifically, the amendments reward health care providers for quality outcomes, promote transparency and competition, and inject accountability and responsibility into the system. The “Innovation and Value” amendment package gained bipartisan support and was endorsed by a number of business, labor, and professional health care organizations.
Senator Shaheen is not afraid to stand up to the big drug companies. Throughout her career, she has initiated programs to lower prescription drug costs for consumers and the government. As Governor, she created a prescription drug program to provide relief for seniors struggling with the high cost of prescription drugs.
Senator Shaheen understands the consumer benefit to getting generic drugs to the marketplace through faster and easier channels and is working with her colleagues to improve access to generic drugs. She successfully fought to include her bipartisan Access to Affordable Medicines Act in the health care law; cosponsored legislation to create a pathway for FDA approval of biogeneric drugs; and cosponsored legislation that would allow for the reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada and other countries. Senator Shaheen will continue to fight for better access to affordable prescription drugs as long as Americans continue to struggle to pay for the medications they need.
Coverage for Children
Access to quality health care is critical to a good start in life. As a State Senator and as Governor of New Hampshire, Senator Shaheen has fought to ensure that children have access to the care they need. Under her leadership, New Hampshire launched the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, which provides affordable health and dental coverage to tens of thousands of New Hampshire children. In the United States Senate, she helped pass a major expansion of CHIP that expanded eligibility to cover an additional 9,300 children in New Hampshire. Senator Shaheen will continue working to ensure that children get the best quality health care possible.
Stem Cell Research
Stem cell research is critical to the scientific understanding of diseases, therapies, and cures that impact millions of Americans. Embryonic stem cell research could lead to treatments for diseases that afflict up to 100 million Americans, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, spinal cord injuries, and other debilitating conditions. Senator Shaheen will continue to support future efforts in this promising field.