Obama Passed Bipartisan Legislation That Expanded Health Care Coverage To 154,000 Residents, Including 70,000 Children.

In 2004, Obama sponsored and helped pass legislation that expanded and made permanent Illinois' KidCare program by raising eligibility from 185% to 200% of the federal poverty level. The legislation provided coverage for an additional 20,000 children and 65,000 more Illinois adults in the first year, and by 2007 had expanded health care to 70,000 kids and 84,000 adults. In its endorsement for his Senate race, the State Journal-Register wrote, "Obama brings similar common-sense views to improving health care in America - for example, as a state senator he championed the successful KidCare program that assists thousands of children of the working poor." [93rd GA, SB 130, 3R P 42-13-2; Signed into law 6/30/03, PA 93-0063; Chicago Daily Herald, 7/2/03; Blagojevich release, 1/9/07; Blagojevich release, 4/13/07; Kaiser family report, 5/07; State Journal-Register, 10/29/04]

Obama Passed A Bill To Create Hospital Report Cards To Assist Consumers; The Bill Was Sponsored By Members Of Both Parties.

Obama was the chief sponsor of Hospital Report Card Act, a bill that provides specific requirements for staffing levels for nurses to ensure that the number of nurses is consistent with the types of nursing care needed by the patients and the capabilities of the staff. The bill also provides requirements for orientation, training of hospital staff, whistleblower protection and requires hospitals to prepare a quarterly report detailing specified information as a condition of licensure. Obama said that the Hospital Report Card would present information to consumers to inform their choices on health care decisions. Obama said, "If I want to go eat out in a restaurant, I can go online and find out details about the number and type of health code violations a restaurant has been cited for...But if I need to go into a hospital for open-heart surgery, I can't find out what the surgical infection rate has been for heart surgeries in that hospital. I'd say a lot more is at stake when I go in for surgery than when I go out to dinner...I think it's going to be very hard to argue against this Bill...Because, essentially, at this stage, all we are saying is that we need a consumer report for hospitals in this state." [93rd GA; SB 0059, 2003; 3/19/03, 3R P 55-0-1; Signed into law 8/20/03, PA 93-0563; Pantagraph, 1/10/03]

Obama Passed An Amendment Into Law That Pressured The EPA to Comply With New Lead-Paint Regulations After Seven Years of Delay.

In 2005, Obama passed an amendment, which became law, to the FY 2006 Department of Interior Appropriations Act prohibiting the use of funds in the bill to delay or contravene implementation of an existing but unmet statutory requirement passed by Congress in 1992 that the EPA rewrite regulations on dispersal of lead paint by home remodeling contractors by October 1996. As of July 2005, the regulations still had not been written. Weeks after Obama’s amendment passed the Senate, Obama received commitments in writing and during a Senate hearing that the EPA would comply with the law. According to an Obama press release, "In 1992, Congress required the EPA to write regulations relating to the dispersal of lead paint by contractors during home remodeling by October, 1996. As of July 2005, these regulations still have not been written. In April, Administrator Johnson stated that to address the problem of lead paint poisoning, the EPA ‘will determine what additional steps may be necessary, including regulation’ despite the fact that the 1992 law does not say the regulations are optional." [SA 1061 agreed to in Senate by Unanimous Consent, 6/28/05, Obama Press Release, 7/25/05; H.R. 2361, Became Public Law No: 109-54, 8/2/05]

EPA Finally Published Nine-Years-Overdue Proposal For Lead Paint Regulations Four Months After Obama Passed Legislation And Held Up EPA Nominations. Building Products wrote, "The EPA recently published long-overdue proposed regulations that affect contractors working on older houses that contain lead-based paints. The regulations, if adopted, would require that contractors be trained in lead-safe work practices and be certified by the EPA. The rules also would impose protective standards for those working on houses with lead paint. In 1992, Congress directed the EPA to write regulations that would limit lead paint pollution during home remodeling by October 1996. By last summer, with no sign of the new regulations, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-III., introduced more legislation designed to encourage the EPA to publish the rules. When that didn't work, Obama announced in the fall that he would block the appointment of every nominee to top EPA jobs until the agency produced the new rules. The EPA finally announced the proposed regulations Dec. 29, 2005." [Building Products, March-April, 2006]

Obama Passed A Law Requiring The Defense Secretary To Report On The Pentagon's Efforts To Prepare For Military And Civilian Personnel For A Possible Influenza Outbreak.

In 2006, Obama sponsored an amendment to the FY 2006 Defense Authorization Act that required the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress on the Pentagon's efforts to prepare for pandemic influenza, including pandemic avian influenza, including status on the procurement of vaccines, public health containment measures that could be implemented on military bases and other facilities; surge capacity for the provision of medical care during pandemics; surveillance efforts domestically and internationally and how such efforts are integrated with other ongoing surveillance systems; the integration of pandemic and response planning with those of other Federal departments; collaboration (as appropriate) with international entities engaged in pandemic preparedness and response. [SA 1453 as modified agreed to in Senate by Unanimous Consent, 11/18/05; S. 1042/H.R. 1815, Became Public Law No: 109-163]

Obama Passed Legislation Providing $25 Million In Funding For Avian Flu Research And Containment Efforts By U.S. Agencies In South East Asia.

"The amendment calls for greater investment in our preparedness efforts by providing more than $3 billion to build a stockpile of antiviral drugs and necessary medical supplies...Obama first introduced legislation in April requiring the United States to stockpile antiviral drugs...In May, Obama worked with a bipartisan group of Senators to appropriate the $25 million called for in the Foreign Assistance Act authorization bill. This money is currently being used by U.S. agencies in South East Asia to combat and contain possible outbreaks of avian flu." [Obama Press Release, 1/12/07]

Obama Passed Health Care Justice Act; IL's Largest Health Care Coalition Applauded Obama's Leadership In Passing the Bill.

In 2004, Obama was chief sponsor of bill creating the Health Care Justice Act, providing that the State of Illinois shall implement a health care access plan that provides uniform benefits for all Illinois residents by establishing a Bipartisan Commission that is required to submit a report to form the basis for the health care access plan to:

1) Provides access to a full range of preventive, acute and long-term health care services;.

2) Maintains and improves the quality of health care services offered to IL residents;.

3) Provides portability of coverage regardless of employment status;.

4) Provides core benefits for all IL residents;.

5) Encourages regional and local consumer participation;.

6) Contains cost-containment measures.

The Journal Register wrote the bill was "amended to make full access to health care a goal instead of a policy and to strongly encourage, instead of require, the state to implement a health-care access plan." The bill passed. When the bill was funded in 2005, Jim Duffett, executive director of Campaign for Better Health Care, the largest health care coalition in Illinois, said, "We applaud the leadership of Governor Blagojevich, state Rep. William Delgado and former state Sen. Barack Obama, who were the chief sponsors of this act." [93rd GA, HB 2268, 5/19/04, 3R P; 31-26-1, 6/24/04, Sent to the Governor; 93rd GA, SB 2581, 3/24/04, Senate Placed on Calendar Order of 3R 3/25/04; Lexington Herald Leader (Kentucky), 1/18/07; State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL), 6/15/04; Campaign for Better Health Care release, 7/31/05]