San Diego, October 26, 2008
— U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., is the American Public Health Association’s (APHA’s ) 2008 Distinguished Legislator of the Year and was honored at APHA’s 136th Annual Meeting & Exposition.
The award is presented annually to legislators serving at the federal, state and local levels who have made significant contributions to advancing legislation for public health priorities. Waxman has shown exceptional leadership on a number of important public health issues, including supporting the regulation of tobacco products, advocating for strong environmental standards to protect the public’s health, strengthening Medicare and Medicaid coverage and protecting women’s reproductive rights.
Waxman has been involved in health issues since 1969, when he was appointed to the California State Assembly Health Committee. In Congress, he has supported such landmark health legislation as the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act, the Safe Medical Devices Act, the Patent Term Restoration and Drug Competition Act and the Orphan Drug Act.
Since 2001, Waxman has worked to oppose efforts to block congressional oversight and roll back health and environmental laws. He launched an investigation into the politicization of science, fought for disclosure of the names of the energy industry lobbyists who shaped the White House energy plan and filed suit to force the administration to release “adjusted” data from the 2000 Census that corrects the undercount of minorities.
Waxman has repeatedly fought efforts to relax important clean air and drinking water protections and weaken enforcement of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. He has championed universal health coverage, AIDS research and treatment, pesticide regulations, nursing home quality standards, women’s health research, affordable prescription drugs and community rights to know about pollution levels.
A longtime defender of the environment, Waxman introduced the Safe Climate Act of 2006, which would set emissions targets to help offset global warming. He was one of the primary authors of the Clean Air Act and sponsored the 1986 and 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act amendments, the 1996 Food Quality Act, the Radon Abatement Act and the Lead Contamination Control Act.
Waxman is a defender of the Social Security system and has fought moves to reduce benefits and increase the retirement age. Chair of the House Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health and Environment from 1979–1994, he served as the subcommittee’s ranking member in 1995 and 1996.
Waxman has been a leading supporter of a woman’s right to choose and fought to end the right to safe and legal abortions to lower-income women who depend on Medicaid coverage for health care. He has led efforts to stop any limitations on federally funded reproductive health care and strongly opposes the prohibition of federally funded clinics from offering abortion information and counseling.