April 8, 2008
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia:  Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of National Public Health Week and the health bills that the House will debate today. It is important that we recognize and build on quality public health programs that affect every aspect of our lives--from effective childhood vaccination programs, to early screening programs for diseases, to ensuring that Americans have access to critical treatment programs.

   Access to quality, affordable health care is critical to the well-being of our country, today and in the future. With 46 million uninsured--9 million of whom are children--we need to focus on strengthening the Medicare system, providing increased access to quality health care programs and ensuring that our low-income children and families have health insurance.

   During my tenure in the Virginia General Assembly, I introduced a number of bills that focused on child and maternal health, preventive screenings for hearing and immunizations for children against certain diseases. The need for these services was vital to the health of the citizens not only of the Commonwealth of Virginia, but also to our Nation as a whole and continues to help our most vulnerable today.

   Madam Speaker, there continues to be an urgent need for expanded health care coverage and increased access to health care for children, seniors and low-income individuals. Because of this need, I introduced H.R. 1688, The All Healthy Children Act. The All Healthy Children Act, endorsed by the Children's Defense Fund, is a logical, smart and achievable incremental next step to close the child coverage gap and guarantees all children have access to the health coverage that they need to survive, thrive and learn. This proposal would ensure that all children are covered by expanding the coverage of both the Medicaid and SCHIP programs while eliminating procedural red tape that currently prevents many children from being covered under either program. This comprehensive program would include all basic health care and preventive testing as well as coverage for mental health and prenatal care.

   The bills that we will vote on today will also help to provide our medical community the tools necessary to improve lives through prevention, research and treatment of disease. For example:

   The Early Hearing Detection and Intervention program is a critical CDC program intended to identify and help infants with hearing loss. This bill reauthorizes funding and expands the program to provide screening and intervention services for young children. We know that the earlier hearing problems are identified, the more effective the medical services can be.

   The Wakefield Act is designed to improve emergency medical services for children needing trauma or critical care.

   The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act educates parents and health care providers about newborn health screening, improves follow-up care for infants with an illness detected through newborn screening, and helps States expand and improve their newborn screening programs. Many diseases and conditions which can be cured when detected early can lead to permanent disabilities if not detected in time.

   The Cytology Proficiency Improvement Act is designed to improve the analysis of tests for cervical cancer by ensuring that health care professionals who read tests for cervical cancer are skilled in today's medical technology. It modernizes the cervical cancer testing program by requiring continuing medical education for pathologists to assess their diagnostic skills and ensure they keep up with the latest practices.

   The Keeping Seniors Safe from Falls Act launches a comprehensive preventative care program to reduce the number and severity of falls by the elderly. It directs HHS to implement directives to reduce falls, including improving the identification of seniors who have a high risk of falling; supporting education campaigns focused on reducing and preventing falls and on educating health professionals about fall risk, assessment and prevention; and conducting research to reduce falls.

   The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act will help schools deal with food allergies among their student population by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Department of Education, to develop a policy for schools on appropriate management and emergency plans for children with food allergies and anaphylaxis. The policy would be provided to schools within 1 year after enactment, and schools could voluntarily implement the policy. The bill also authorizes HHS to award grants to local school districts to help them in implementing the policy.

   The House amendment to the Traumatic Brain Injury Act authorizes the Centers for Disease Control, CDC, to provide State grants for patients with traumatic brain injury to enter treatment and rehabilitation programs. The thousands of brain injury survivors who are returning home from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan are joining the 5.3 million similarly afflicted Americans here at home. Indeed, TBI is the leading cause of death and disability among young Americans. The legislation would require the CDC to monitor brain injury incidents and create a reporting system to track the condition. It also directs CDC to study treatment techniques and NIH to conduct basic research to improve treatment.

   Madam Speaker, action on these critical issues is imperative to meet the pressing health care concerns of our Nation. I urge my colleagues to support these bills.