The Affordable Care Act has expanded coverage to thousands of Rhode Islanders, reduced costs, driven health care delivery system reform, and provided thousands of Rhode Islanders with the peace of mind that health insurance will be there for them when they get sick.
For a wide range of Rhode Islanders, the Affordable Care Act has been a landmark achievement. Thanks to The Affordable Care Act, every person, regardless of their gender, age or a pre-existing condition, now has access to affordable health care. We have reduced the number of uninsured and poorly insured, meaning more people now have access to annual check ups and preventive care. Because of this, the rate health care inflation is finally slowing.
But that does mean this law is perfect. There is certainly a need for more progress. Unfortunately, too many attempts to build on the progress of the Affordable Care Act have been the victim of the political stalemate in Washington.
Talk about repeal is reckless, irresponsible, and fails to recognize the many who now rely on this law for quality, affordable coverage. David believes we need to build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act and fix what doesn’t work.
And David has been working hard to do just that. He voted to repeal the so-called “Cadillac Tax.” This tax does not accomplish what it aims to achieve. Rather than singling out the excessive healthcare plans of a lucky few, this tax would fall on a broad cross-section of Rhode Islanders and disrupt long-standing healthcare coverage on which businesses and families rely.
David has worked with colleagues to reign in the cost of prescription drugs, curb the addiction and overdose crisis, keep healthcare affordable to seniors, and invest in research in our state in such fields as Alzheimer’s. Not only is this an investment that will save lives, in Rhode Island it is an investment that creates jobs.
David has been a leader in enhancing the treatment of mental illness and promoting mental health in our country.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 26.2% of American adults will suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year and approximately 6% of Americans will suffer from a serious form of mental illness. In addition, according to some estimates, approximately 61% of adults in need of mental health treatment do not receive it. And those with mental illness often suffer multiple, chronic physical conditions whose treatment is greatly complicated by underlying mental illness and substance use disorders.
Increasingly, we are seeing the toll of mental illness rise among young Americans. Among youth age 13 to 18, approximately 20% will experience a severe mental disorder in a given year. A study looking at mental health and juvenile justice has reported that 70% percent of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition and at least 20% live with a severe mental illness.
When we fail to meet the needs of adults, children, youth, and families for mental health or substance use treatment, we pay a price in so many ways – reduced economic opportunity, lower educational outcomes, excessive engagement with the criminal justice system, homelessness, and more.
At the same time our failure to fully address mental health and substance use, we are facing a rising need among our servicemen and women returning home from combat. A study by the Department of Veterans Affairs showed that nearly 30% of the approximately 834,000 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who have been treated at a VA facility have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disorder that can be brought on by exposure to a threatening event, or major depression.
In Congress, David successfully amended the Department of Defense Appropriations Act to increase funding for research related to traumatic brain injuries, mental health and addiction disorders among military personnel. He has been a outspoken advocate for fixing what is broken in our VA healthcare system.
David believes we must make mental health care and fully implementing mental health parity major priorities as we continue to expand health care to all Americans. In Congress, David has supported efforts to invest in innovative demonstration projects like expanding funding for Mental Health First Aid which will expand crisis intervention services and increase community capacity for intervention and referral. David has also worked to expand access to mental health care for children by supporting legislation to provide federal funding for school-based services.