Bill believes that access to high-quality, affordable healthcare is a basic human right. While he was not in Congress when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was voted on in 2009, he is a strong proponent of health care reform as originated in Massachusetts, which has been an unrivaled success. Today, more than 96.9% of the Commonwealth’s total population is insured, and less than 2 percent of children lack coverage.
Tens of thousands of Massachusetts residents have already benefited from the law’s provisions - such as tax credits for small businesses; coverage for young adults up to age 26 on their parents’ policies; patient protections; free coverage for preventive services; and lower prescription drug costs for seniors. Nationwide, 137 million Americans in private plans have received one or more free preventive services, and up to 105 million Americans no longer have a lifetime limit on their coverage.
Bill has fought to prioritize patients’ access to healthcare above partisan disputes. When the House majority allowed the federal government to shutdown in 2013, critical health services, such as National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical trials, were suspended along with the more widely-publicized closure of national parks and furloughing of thousands of federal employees. When Bill was alerted to this fatal circumstance by constituents in his district awaiting clinical trials, he worked with directors at NIH to establish these trials as “essential” – something that would exempt them from the shutdown – and allowed the clinical trials to be restarted. Bill’s action not only benefited his constituents but thousands of patients waiting for life-saving medical treatment across the country.
Needless to say, Bill is an ardent supporter of the NIH and the critical research they do there, and continuously fights to provide funding for medical research and care initiatives that promote the health and wellness of all Americans. He has fought for increased funding for NIH - the largest source of financial support for medical research in the world and funding source for thousands of scientists in research institutions and universities in every state across America. It is estimated that the return on investment for every dollar of NIH funding is more than doubled in local economic growth. In 2012, NIH-funded research was found to support an over 400,000 jobs across the United States, including thousands in Massachusetts.
Bill was also proud to cosponsor the 21st Century Cures Act, which would reauthorize and increase funding for NIH to $8.75 billion over five years, allowing NIH researchers to continue working on modernizing and finding new treatments for diseases, like cancer, diabetes, ALS, Down syndrome, and Alzheimer’s, among others. Further, the NIH will have the flexibility to direct research to unmet needs, cultivate young scientists, and promote greater collaboration between researchers, grant recipients, and institutions.
He also strongly supports our community health centers, which provide health care to 23 million people, including almost 600,000 across Massachusetts. Bill believes vibrant, local health centers are a critical part of an efficient, sustainable health care system and is a member of the Congressional Community Health Center Caucus. For his work, Bill was awarded the National Association of Community Health Centers, 2015 Distinguished Community Health Defender Award. In 2013, he was named a Distinguished Community Health Advocate.
Of specific health care concern to our district, in particular on Cape Cod, is the increase of tickborne illnesses. As a member of the Congressional Lyme Disease Caucus, Bill secured $5 million for the Department of Defense’s Tickborne Disease Research Program – the first time this program has been funded.
Other healthcare related Caucuses of which Bill is a member include the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease, the Arthritis Caucus, the Assisted Caregiving Caucus, the Crohn’s and Colitis Caucus, the Cystic Fibrosis Caucus, the Deadliest Cancers Caucus, the Diabetes Caucus, the Fragile X Caucus, the Kidney Caucus, and the Rare Diseases Caucus.