Washington, D.C., August 27, 2010 — The American Public Health Association has chosen U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., as its 2010 distinguished legislators of the year.
The award is presented annually to lawmakers serving at the federal, state or local level who have made significant contributions to advancing legislation to improve and protect public health. Both Dodd and Capps work exemplifies such contributions.
“On behalf of the American Public Health Association, I would like to congratulate Sen. Dodd and Rep. Capps on their achievements and thank them for their dedication and extraordinary contributions to improving our nation’s health,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “Through their steadfast commitment and leadership, they have had a profound impact on protecting the health of countless Americans. They set an example for other legislators to follow.”
Dodd has demonstrated exceptional leadership on a number of important public health issues. Foremost is his shepherding of strong prevention-focused health reform legislation through the Senate that was enacted into law this year. His ongoing support for strong regulation of tobacco products has also been exemplary.
Throughout his legislative career, Dodd served and continues to be an unrelenting advocate for children’s issues. He formed the first children’s caucus in the Senate and spent eight years fighting to enact the Family and Medical Leave Act. He also authored and enacted landmark legislation to ensure the country provides better access to safe and affordable childcare.
Among his many health-related efforts, Dodd authored critically important legislation to protect the mentally ill from abuse and deadly restraint and seclusion practices in mental hospitals. He has supported a patient’s bill of rights giving assurances in health care services and the right to choose health care providers and has enacted legislation to ensure the medicines and medical devices used with children are safe and effective.
Capps is also a respected leader of Congress on public health issues. Most recently, she has led efforts to address the health impacts of climate change in the American Clean Energy and Security Act, and she’s been a strong advocate for securing strong prevention and wellness provisions in the newly enacted Affordable Care Act. Capps has been a strong proponent for equal access to health care, including support of a public option as well as fighting to ensure women’s access to reproductive services.
Other notable public health accomplishments include passing legislation to address the national nursing shortage, detect and prevent domestic violence, curb underage drinking, improve mental health services, provide emergency defibrillators to local communities, bring CPR instruction to schools and provide immediate Medicare coverage to patients suffering from Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
The 2010 Distinguished Public Health Legislator of the Year awards will be presented in November in Denver during the 138th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association.