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Make your health a priority

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It’s a very special time of year, and I’m not just talking about the holiday season. It’s also open enrollment season — the period when Americans can sign up for quality health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. This year, open enrollment lasts from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15. 

Since 2014, hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers, and millions more across America, have received better health care services and greater peace of mind by enrolling in a health plan under Obamacare. 

Helping to pass this landmark law remains one of the proudest achievements in my congressional career, and since then I have worked to protect and strengthen the law. 

Thankfully, Republicans were unsuccessful in repealing this important law in 2017, but since then, they have tried to sabotage, weaken and destroy this cornerstone of President Obama’s legacy. If they are successful, millions of Americans will lose their health insurance and even more could once again be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. 

One of the best ways people can push back on this reckless agenda is by signing up for health care coverage under Obamacare, which helps keep the law strong. 

If you are uninsured and don’t think you can afford health insurance, or even if you are already insured and want to know your options, I urge you to check out plans this open enrollment season. Your health is your most important asset, so be sure to protect it by getting covered. And doing so may be more affordable than you think. It’s estimated that more than 80% of individuals can find plans that are between $50 and $100 a month. 

Visit healthcare.gov today to shop for plans, or head to your local community health center, where navigators can help find health coverage that’s right for you and your family. 

Every American should be focused on their health, but for African Americans, this is particularly important. After generations of slavery, legal segregation and systemic discrimination, our community faces unique public health challenges. And receiving quality care, like the kind Americans receive through Obamacare coverage, is one way to address these persistent disparities and obstacles. But we need to do much more to improve the health of our community.

I’m working hard to do that in Congress. In November, the Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved my bipartisan bill with my Indiana colleague, Rep. Larry Bucshon. It’s called the Excellence in Maternal Health Act (H.R. 4215), and it establishes grant programs to help reduce maternal mortality. Too many, especially African American women, are dying from preventable conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth. And in Indiana, this is particularly true, because we have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. I’ll continue working to enact this law, because the birth of a child should be a joyous event for a family, not one that’s marred by tragedy.

I am also an original cosponsor of another bipartisan piece of legislation, the Prostate-Specific Antigen Screening for High-Risk Men Act (H.R. 5200) that waives deductibles, copayments and coinsurance costs for men who have a family history of prostate cancer, including African American men. The data shows that African American men are significantly more likely to develop prostate cancer and die from the illness than white men. Better access to prostate cancer screenings will go far in helping to lower these rates and keep African American men healthier.

Additionally, I’m working hard to help fight the scourge of sickle cell disease, which is disproportionately found in African Americans. I was proud to sponsor a resolution (H. Res 606), which calls for greater research into this genetic predisposition. And it also calls for the development of a public awareness campaign that helps people with sickle cell trait know and understand the implications of their status. 

This resolution is in addition to my broader bill, the RARE Act (H.R. 4228), which would empower the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct more research on rare diseases, including sickle cell disease, and improve treatments for these challenging conditions. 

Thanks to advancements like the Affordable Care Act, African Americans, and all Americans, can take better control of their own health and the health of their families. But, it’s clear there is more to be done. We must continue building on the progress we have made in order to create happier, healthier and more prosperous communities.  

And don’t forget, if you haven’t taken advantage of open enrollment yet, please go to healthcare.gov and find a plan that’s right for you and your family.

Rep. Carson represents the 7th District of Indiana. He is a Member of the Congressional Black Caucus and one of three Muslims in Congress. Rep. Carson sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, where he is chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation. Contact Rep. Carson at carson.house.gov/contact.

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