Affordable and Accessible Healthcare for All
Access to health care, affordable medical insurance, and social services are basic human rights. While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took an important step forward by insuring close to 20 million Americans, many issues—such as escalating costs and high copayments and deductibles—remain. With 27 million Americans still uninsured today, Tulsi is committed to working to ensure that affordable healthcare is available to all Americans.
Protecting Medicare and Medicaid
Medicare and Medicaid help nearly 130 million Americans, including close to 570,000 people in Hawaiʻi, access quality healthcare. Tulsi is continuing to work to increase Medicare reimbursement rates to help expand health care access and retain physicians in our rural communities. She has cosponsored legislation like the Medicare Premium Fairness Act to prevent premium and deductible increases for those enrolled in Medicare, and the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act to help ensure those who are most in need continue to have access to quality and affordable care.
Fighting for the Healthcare Veterans Deserve
While veterans have been experiencing delays and obstacles in receiving VA healthcare for decades, in 2014, our country's failure to fulfill its promise to our veterans was starkly exposed. At the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), veterans faced wait times of 90 days or more to see a doctor. Hawaiʻi veterans experienced the worst wait times in the country, averaging 145 days—almost five months—just to see a primary care physician for the first time. As the VA crises unfolded, Tulsi introduced a bill called the Access to Care and Treatment Now for Veterans Act to allow veterans not getting timely healthcare from the VA to get care from non-VA medical providers. This policy was ultimately included in the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act that became law at the end of 2014. Tulsi is continuing to fight for our veterans, including working to eliminate the unacceptable wait times veterans still face today.
Increasing Healthcare Access in Rural and Underserved Communities
People from every island deserve access to the highest quality of health care. In visits to Community Health Centers and Critical Access Hospitals throughout the state, Tulsi has seen firsthand the challenges brought on by remote locations, lack of funding, and staff shortages. She is working to help solve these challenges and create greater access to care in our rural and underserved communities, and has cosponsored legislation like the bipartisan CONNECT for Health Act to remove Medicare barriers to tele-health and remote patient monitoring services. She also passed an amendment in the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act to provide military retirees living more than 100 miles from a military treatment facility the option to re-enroll in TRICARE Prime. This amendment successfully reversed a 2013 policy that eliminated this access and created barriers for our veterans.
Restoring the Federal Healthcare Promised to COFA Migrants
Tulsi is also working to restore federal funding for health care that was promised to Compacts of Free Association (COFA) migrants. In 1996, Congress passed a law that made migrants from Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands ineligible for federal Medicaid dollars. Without federal dollars, Hawai‘i has borne the cost of care for COFA migrants, which has strained our state’s resources. Each year, Hawai‘i spends an estimated $30 to $40 million to provide health care to these families. Tulsi introduced the Restore Medicaid to Compact of Free Association Migrants Act to right this wrong, require the federal government to fulfill its obligations, honor our COFA, and share the cost of providing health care.
More on Affordable and Accessible Healthcare for All
Washington, DC—Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement after voting against H.J.Res.43, which would get rid of important protections in place to ensure Americans across the country have access to family planning and preventive health services:
Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), a co-chair of the House Nursing Caucus, joined fellow lawmakers in introducing the bipartisan Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act (H.R.959). The bipartisan legislation would reauthorize federal funding for nursing workforce and education programs to help grow and support the nursing workforce in the United States.
Washington, DC—Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the statement below after the House unanimously passed the Veterans TRICARE Choice Act (H.R.5458). The congresswoman introduced the legislation with Rep. Chris Stewart (UT-02) in 2015. The bill expands veterans’ healthcare options by allowing veterans to temporarily pause their TRICARE benefits to participate in an employer’s Health Savings Account (HSA) program if they so choose. Under current federal law, it is illegal for a TRICARE-eligible veteran to participate in an HSA program.
Washington, DC—Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement after voting to pass the bipartisan Continuing Resolution (CR) and the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) to fund the government, combat the Zika virus and help the people of Flint, Michigan with their water crisis:
Washington, DC—Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) announced today that 14 Hawaiʻi Health Centers will receive a total of $753,064 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support health information technology (IT) enhancements. The funding is part of more than $87 million provided by HHS to 1,310 health centers in every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin.