Making Quality Health Care Affordable

Senator Stabenow believes that quality healthcare is a basic human right. As a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee and Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee, she has led efforts in Congress to make health care more affordable. She secured provisions in the Affordable Care Act to lower the cost of medicine and authored legislation to allow the importation of safe prescription medicines from Canada. She has championed legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies to lower the cost of drugs for seniors and people with disabilities.

Senator Stabenow is a leading advocate of community health centers, which provide affordable, high-quality care in over 180 communities in Michigan. As part of the Affordable Care Act, she ensured that these health centers would get immediate assistance to expand their operations and provide primary care services to up to 26 million Americans in need. She has since led the successful bipartisan push for Congress to reauthorize critical funding for community health centers. 

Senator Stabenow has been a life-long advocate for quality mental health and addiction services. As Chair of the Michigan House Mental Health Committee while serving in the state legislature, she led the passage of major legislation to strengthen Michigan’s Mental Health Code, including authoring the Children’s Mental Health Act and the nationally recognized Family Support Subsidy Act. She authored the provision in the Affordable Care Act requiring all plans in states’ new health insurance marketplaces to offer mental health and substance abuse services at the same level as other health services. Her Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act is transforming the way we treat mental illness by closing the gap between physical and behavioral health care in communities around the country.

Senator Stabenow has also led efforts to protect health care for our children and seniors. She has championed funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which serves close to nine million children across the country and about 100,000 children in Michigan through MIChild. Her bipartisan School-Based Health Centers Reauthorization Act extends funding for school-based health centers, which help provide basic health services for thousands of students in Michigan who have limited access to medical care outside of school. Moreover, she remains committed to making sure that Social Security and Medicare are protected now and in the future, and has opposed attempts to turn Medicare into a voucher system. 

Lowering the Cost of Prescription Drugs

As Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Health Subcommittee, Senator Stabenow recently grilled the CEOs of the seven leading pharmaceutical companies on the skyrocketing cost of lifesaving prescription drugs. American taxpayers contributed more than $200 billion in research funding from 2010-2016 alone that helped Big Pharma develop new medications. Senator Stabenow believes it is outrageous that, in return, Americans get the highest drug prices in the world.

Pharmaceutical and health product lobbying reached $282 million in 2018, more than any other industry. These seven companies spent $79.16 billion on selling, marketing, and administrative expenses last year – $22 billion more than what they spent on research and development. The Republican tax bill also gave pharmaceutical companies a huge tax giveaway but these companies are still not lowering prices for families. The seven CEOs who testified made over $100 million in compensation in 2017.

Read more about her plan to lower the cost of prescription drugs here.

Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment

In 2014, Senator Stabenow passed the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act with Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO). This law is one of the most significant steps forward in community mental health and addiction treatment in decades. It closes the gap in funding between physical and behavioral health care in communities around the country and sets high-quality standards of care.

The law established a new provider type in Medicaid called Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs), which are transforming the way mental health and addiction treatment services are delivered in Michigan and across the country. These clinics provide a comprehensive set of services including 24/7/365 crisis services and immediate screenings, risk assessments, and diagnoses. They provide outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment services, as well as coordination of care and partnerships with emergency rooms, law enforcement, and veterans groups. Because of Senator Stabenow’s leadership, Michigan has expanded or is currently expanding services in clinics in Kalamazoo, Ludington, Muskegon, Auburn Hills, Lansing, Novi, Southgate, St. Clair County, and Washtenaw County. These clinics are funded with $34 million in federal appropriations secured through Stabenow’s leadership.

Stabenow’s 2014 Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act created a Certified Community Behavioral Health Center pilot program that provided a competitive process for funding for eight states. Stabenow’s Expansion Act increases the number of eligible states from eight to 19 and gives the eight participating states two years of additional funding through Medicaid. Under the expansion, Michigan will have the opportunity to apply for funding for additional clinics and more comprehensive services for people across the state. 

HOPE For Alzheimer’s Act

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and more than 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s. In Michigan, there were more than 4,400 deaths from Alzheimer’s disease in 2017, and more than 517,000 people provided 589 million hours of unpaid care to Alzheimer’s patients.

Senator Stabenow’s bipartisan legislation, the Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s Act, requires Medicare to pay for an individual care plan for newly diagnosed Alzheimer’s patients. This new benefit encourages doctors to give a clear diagnosis to patients with Alzheimer’s disease, including information about treatment options and what medical and community services are available. Thanks to a successful bipartisan push led by Senator Stabenow, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced in November 2016 that Medicare would begin covering new care plans in 2017, effectively implementing the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act.

We must make sure that individuals and their families have access to the care and services that can improve their quality of life today. In 2017, less than 1% of seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease received the care planning benefit created by the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act. That’s why Stabenow introduced the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act, which requires the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct outreach to make more health care providers aware of this important benefit and to report back on rates of utilization and barriers to access.