Health Care

Health Care

"With over 230,000 people in El Paso without health coverage, expanding access to quality, affordable health care is essential.  We can no longer accept the status quo." -Congressman Silvestre Reyes

Congressman Silvestre Reyes works improve El Paso's health care facilities and to expand access to quality, affordable health care.  

Fighting for Health Care Reform

Congressman Reyes supported the Affordable Care Act, which became law in March 2010 and will make needed reforms to the health insurance system to ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care while significantly reducing long-term health care costs.  The new law will help bring down costs, end the practice of denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, and bars annual and lifetime limits on health coverage. The Affordable Care Act also provides tax credits for small businesses which provide health benefits and enables parents to keep their children on their health care policy until age 26.

The new health law will provide coverage to 32 million more people, expanding access to health insurance to more than 94% of Americans, while lowering health care costs over the long term. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has reported that the Affordable Care Act will reduce the federal deficit by $143 billion over the next 10 years, with $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction in the following 10 years.  

Medical Center of the Americas (MCA) and the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine

In September 2009, Congressman Reyes brought House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to El Paso to visit the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.  Following the visit, Congressman Reyes worked closely with Congressional leaders to establish a grant program to provide $100 million annually to develop medical schools in "professional shortage areas," such as El Paso.  Congressman Reyes is fighting to ensure that the new grant program is funded.  

Congressman Reyes also arranged for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to visit El Paso to meet with leaders from Texas Tech medical school and the MCA to discuss the future of the campus.  Also, at Congressman Reyes' request, high-level National Institutes of Health (NIH) staff participated in a research advancement symposium highlighting the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, UTEP, and other regional partners.

Reyes obtained almost $7 million in direct federal appropriations for the MCA, which includes the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center four-year medical school.  Congressman Reyes continues to seek additional research activities and funding and is working to raise the profile of the MCA nationally.

Expanding Medical Capacity in El Paso

Congressman Reyes secured $300,000 for the nursing program at UTEP.  Reyes also secured $437,000 in federal funds for Project ARRIBA, a worker retraining program that is primarily geared to helping address the nurse shortage in El Paso.  A strong supporter of this program, he brought a delegation of Congressional Hispanic Caucus Members to tour Project ARRIBA in El Paso.  Since the programs' inception, on average $16.09 is returned to the community of El Paso for every dollar spent on this program.   

Improving Community Health Care

Congressman Reyes is a strong advocate for community health centers such as Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, Centro San Vicente, and Project Vida which provide quality, affordable health care to those who need it most.  He realizes the important role that community health centers play in ensuring health access to all, especially in the border region.  Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, Centro San Vicente, and Project Vida have recently received over $3.5 million to meet the increased demand for health care and to make capital and infrastructure improvements.

Helping Low-Income Patients

El Paso has one of the highest concentrations of America's uninsured population, with over 230,000 without health coverage, and El Pasoans suffer from disproportionately high levels of poverty and disease, including diabetes, TB, hepatitis, and cancer.  Much of the cost of treating these uninsured patients falls on local taxpayers who have, since 1998, paid over $400 million for care of uninsured patients at University Medical Center of El Paso.   

To offset those costs, Congressman Reyes has fought against cuts to Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).   Over 156,000 El Pasoans are enrolled in Medicaid/SCHIP, and this funding is critical to El Paso because these programs provide low-income individuals with affordable health coverage.

In March 2010, the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH) presented Congressman Reyes with the organization's "Safety Net Award," for his work in Congress to champion the needs of safety net hospitals, such as University Medical Center of El Paso.

Protecting Medicare for El Paso Seniors

For more than 40 years, Medicare has offered critical health and financial stability for seniors, people with disabilities, and those with end-stage renal disease, providing coverage for over 45 million individuals this year.  In El Paso, more than 92,000 residents are Medicare beneficiaries.

Congressman Reyes strongly opposed the budget passed by House of Representatives Republicans in April 2011 which would makes radical changes to Medicare.  The Republican budget would raise costs for seniors and individuals with disabilities enrolled in Medicare, reduce benefits, and put private insurance companies in charge of the program.  For Americans under 55 and nearing retirement, Medicare’s guarantee of comprehensive coverage would be replaced with a voucher that individuals could use to buy private health insurance.  In order to save money, this voucher program would not keep pace with medical cost and would shift thousands of dollars in costs to individual Medicare patients.

Medicare Physician Payments

Medicare has helped bring affordable health care to seniors, and key to that success has been the timely and appropriate payment to doctors who see Medicare patients.  Prior to Reyes’ election to Congress, a budget-cutting measure was enacted which automatically cuts payments to physicians, and  providing affordable health care for our seniors. A reduction in Medicare payments would have a devastating effect on doctors and patients across the country.   Reyes worked to both halt impending cuts and to reform the physician payment process to stop these arbitrary reductions.  

Improving the Health of Border Residents

Congressman Reyes is a strong supporter of the Border Health Commission (BHC), which is the only entity in operation that is uniquely focused on the health challenges facing the border region and secured El Paso as the home of the BHC.

Border Health Security Act - In addition to securing funding for the Border Health Commission, Congressman Reyes introduced the Border Health Security Act to strengthen and expand the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission and its work as it enters its second decade.  The Border Health Security would increase grant funding to states, local governments, tribal governments, or community health centers along the U.S.-Mexico border to improve infrastructure, access, and the delivery of health care services.  The bill would provide additional funding for the BHC and would establish a health alert network to identify and communicate information quickly to health providers about emerging health care threats.


Press Releases - Project Vida Awarded $800K from the Department of Health and Human Services 9.27.2012

Press Releases - Reyes’ Statement Opposing Republican Attempt to Eliminate Patient Protections in Health Care Reform Law 7.11.2012

Press Releases - Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Reform 6.28.2012

Press Releases - Pan American Health Organization Recognizes Congressman Reyes for his Work to Improve Border Health 10.5.2011


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