Access to Affordable and Quality Health Care

Chris believes that one of the most fundamental responsibilities of government is to promote access to affordable health care. Chris played a pivotal role in the passage of the Affordable Care Act and is continuing the fight to end health disparities that mostly impact women and minorities. He has been recognized for his leadership in this area by numerous state and national civic and health advocacy organizations.

Chris knows how important it is to make sure families in Maryland have access to quality, affordable health care. As a member of House Leadership, Chris played a key role in the passage of the Affordable Care Act and helped lead the effort to ensure that young people can stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age of 26.

The historic health care reform law has lowered costs for families and small businesses across the country, given over 130,000 Marylanders access to health insurance, and ended the worst practices of insurance companies. People with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage. Annual checkups with your doctor are now free. Insurance companies can no longer charge women more simply because of their gender, and preventive services like mammograms and contraception are offered at no cost. Medicare has been strengthened and seniors with high prescription drug costs are getting relief.

Chris knows that we cannot turn back to the clock to a time when millions couldn’t afford health care and insurance companies considered being a woman a pre-existing condition. He’s been at the center of the fight to keep Republicans from repealing the law’s protections and cutting programs that provide health protection to those who need it most. As our next U.S. Senator, he will continue that fight and build on the important progress we’ve made.

He believes the next step is to establish a Public Option to give Americans a Medicare-like choice within the health care exchanges. This would be an important step toward creating a Medicare for All System. He is also working to expand incentives that prioritize the quality of the care people receive over the quantity of care.

Chris has been a leader in the fight to ensure that women have the right to make their own reproductive health care choices. As a State Delegate, he helped pass legislation to codify abortion rights into state law so that the rights of Maryland women would be protected even if any future Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade. He won the Betty Tyler Award from Planned Parenthood of Maryland for his leadership in that effort. As an active member of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus and the top Democrat on the Budget Committee, he continues to play a leading role in supporting reproductive rights and women’s health. He is a leading supporter of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would prevent state and local governments from passing restrictive laws that impede choice, and he has fought to protect funding for Planned Parenthood and Title X family planning programs.

With the National Institutes of Health (NIH) right here in Maryland, our state is on the cutting edge of medical research. However, funding for NIH has failed to keep up with biomedical inflation over the last decade, meaning less support for critical research into diseases like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. Chris is a strong supporter of funding for NIH to help find new medical treatments and cures and advance Maryland’s biotechnology industry. He authored a Democratic budget that includes strong funding for NIH and supports the 21st Century Cures Act to add $8.75 billion in mandatory funding to NIH over the next five years.

With a child diagnosed with cancer every three minutes — and one in five of those children dying from cancer — this work is of critical importance. As Co-Chair of Congressional Childhood Cancer Caucus, he helped lead the fight to pass two bipartisan laws to improve research and spur the development of new treatments, and continues to push Congress, drug companies, and medical researchers to do more save the lives of children with cancer. He is also a strong supporter of the Children’s Health Insurance Program to provide health care coverage to those who need it most.

Chris has been a long-time advocate for mental health care, and was a leading supporter of the mental health parity law to require insurers to provide equal coverage for mental illness and substance abuse. As too many Marylanders are lost to addiction and overdoses, we must increase access to treatment, carefully monitor prescription painkillers that can serve as a gateway to heroin abuse, and widely distribute medicines to prevent overdose.

Taking on tough issues is nothing new for Chris, and that’s something he’ll continue in the Senate. In the Maryland General Assembly, he wrote one of the state’s most progressive pieces of HMO reform legislation that prohibited HMOs from giving bonuses to doctors who restrict patient care. He also authored the law that requires insurance companies to disclose the funds they spend on mental health services versus profits.

As a State Senator, Chris fought the tobacco lobby to get funding for smoking cessation programs to protect public health. In Congress, he continued that fight as a leading supporter of the successful Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which allowed the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products and limit marketing to kids.

Chris has received a number of honors for his leadership on keeping our communities healthy and safe, including:

  • Betty Tyler Public Affairs Award – Planned Parenthood of Maryland
  • Distinguished Service Award – Mental Health Association of Maryland
  • Champion for Children’s Health Award – Children’s National Health System
  • Distinguished Community Health Leadership Award – National Association of Community Health Centers, Inc.
  • Outstanding Legislative Leadership Award – Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation
  • Outstanding Service Award – Maryland Psychological Association Legislation Committee
  • Legislator of the Year Award – Smoke Free Maryland
  • Policy Maker of the Year – Washington Psychiatric Society
  • Honors – Maryland Legislative Council of Social Workers
  • Legislative Appreciation Award – The Maryland Association of Community Services
  • Gold Level Award – Alliance for Lupus Research
  • Appreciation Award – Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
  • Jack Lodge Award – American Lung Association of Maryland
  • Certificate of Excellence – National Breast Cancer Coalition
  • Joel A. Toubin Memorial Award – Whitman Walker Clinic
  • Legislator of the Year Award – Biotechnology Industry Org.
  • Champion Award for Hospice and Home Health – Visiting Nurse Association of America’s Public Policy Leadership Conference
  • Children’s Congress Hero’s Award – Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International
  • Hall of Fame – Montgomery County Volunteer Fire-Rescue Association
  • Health Care Leadership Award – American Optometric Association
  • Honoree – Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater DC-Maryland Chapter
  • Congressional Champion Award – Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International
  • Morris K. Udall Award for Public Service – Parkinson’s Action Network
  • Public Service Award – American Association of Immunologists
  • Mental Health Hero – Montgomery County’s National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Distinguished Public Service Award – Dystonia Advocacy Coalition
  • Recognition Award – Alliance for Regenerative Medicine
  • Health Paul G. Rogers Award for Public Service – National Library of Medicine
  • Legislator of the Year Award – American College of Cardiology, Maryland Chapter
  • Public Policy Leadership Award – Digestive Disease National Coalition
  • Distinguished Legislator Award – Maryland Impaired Driving Coalition
  • Crittenton Legacy Award for Leadership – Crittenton Services of Greater Washington
  • Highway Safety Hero Award – Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety