Statement from Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP,
APHA Executive Director
Washington, D.C., January 17, 2007 – The American Public Health Association (APHA) today applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for swiftly approving measures that will help improve the health of Americans, including supporting a higher minimum wage, the federal government’s right to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices and stem cell research. These actions taken during the first 100 hours of the new Congress illustrate a new bipartisan commitment to improving access to medication, new disease prevention and treatment options and other vital health services.
“If approved by the U.S. Senate, the Medicare legislation would allow the federal government to work with pharmaceutical companies to reduce drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, many of whom are seniors with restricted incomes. This legislation would fill in gaps in health coverage for many patients who participate in the Medicare Part D program and should be protected from high out-of-pocket costs.
“House members also moved to raise the minimum wage for the first time in a decade to $7.25 an hour over two years. This $2.10-an-hour increase represents an invaluable opportunity to better the economic and health status of working families. Low incomes significantly affect individuals’ ability to afford health care services, including medicines and doctors’ visits. Additionally, the House’s approval of legislation that would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to conduct research that uses human embryonic stem cells also has potentially life-saving benefits.
“We urge the Senate to follow their colleagues’ lead in putting the health of Americans first and to continue to bridge party lines in improving the public’s health.”