During the time Senator Rockefeller spent in Emmons, West Virginia, as a young VISTA volunteer, he came to believe that access to health care should be a right and not a privilege. As a national leader on health policy and Chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, Senator Rockefeller has fought to make sure that every American has access to affordable, quality health care.
Senator Rockefeller fought to pass the comprehensive health care reform law in 2010, which ensures Americans can afford needed health care, helps reduce health care costs, and improves the quality of care. Because of the law, seniors are now receiving discounts on their prescription drugs, small businesses are getting tax credits for providing health insurance to employees, and Medicare is now covering important preventive services. Starting in 2014, health insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions like diabetes or asthma.
Senator Rockefeller also has been one of the leading defenders of Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). He is continuing to fight to protect these life-saving programs that provide critical health care services to millions of Americans.
- Ten years ago, Senator Rockefeller was a lead author of legislation to create CHIP, one of the most important children's initiatives of the last half-century. This program has given millions of America's children, including tens of thousands in West Virginia, the chance to start out healthy in life.
- Medicaid provides essential services to 68 million low-income children, parents, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and seniors, including 402,000 West Virginians. After almost 50 years, Medicaid is still a life-saving part of our nation's health system, paying for 40% of births (50% of births in West Virginia), 62% of long-term care, and, along with CHIP, 34% of the health care costs for children in our country.
- Medicare provides vital health care services to 48 million seniors, including 380,000 West Virginians. Before Medicare, nearly 50% of seniors in the United States were uninsured. Senator Rockefeller also supports reforming the flawed formula that provides Medicare payments to physicians by transforming our health care delivery system to reward quality and patient safety.
West Virginia also faces one of the highest rates of prescription drug abuse in the country. Senator Rockefeller has been working in Congress for several years to build momentum for and raise awareness of this epidemic. He introduced the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, which would work to prevent the unsafe use of prescription drugs and reduce the number of deaths from prescription drugs, and brought the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to West Virginia to discuss how prescription drug abuse affects families and children in the state.