Ensuring the health and wellness of all Americans is a guiding principle for Senator Markey’s work in Congress. Senator Markey believes health care is a right, not a privilege and has worked to ensure that all Americans, especially children, have access to affordable, quality health care.
He has fought to protect and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid benefits for the most vulnerable in society. He also has been a champion for health and medical research, consumer protection, the disabled, and the fight against Alzheimer's disease.
Senator Markey has a long history of supporting federal research in science and technology. On a yearly basis, Senator Markey advocates during appropriation season for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) responsible for funding various biomedical and basic science research projects, which help us better understand the origin of disease and assist developing cures.
Senator Markey has worked to combat the opioid epidemic and believes the best way to fight this scourge is reliable long-term investments in prevention, treatment, recovery, and monitoring. He has authored and fought for legislation and helped secure federal funding to help Massachusetts’s towns and communities address the epidemic.
Senator Markey is co-author of the provision in the 2016 law that expands the availability of medication-assisted therapies (MAT) such as buprenorphine (also called Suboxone) by allowing, for the first time, physicians assistants and nurse practitioners to prescribe the life-saving treatment. His 2019 CREATE Opportunities Act would help expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in correctional facilities.
Senator Markey authored the INTERDICT Act, legislation to help stop the flow of the illicit opioid fentanyl across the U.S. border by equipping U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with hi-tech scanning devices and other technologies to detect synthetic opioids like fentanyl. The INTERDICT Act was signed in to law in 2018. In another effort to stem the flow of illicit fentanyl into the country, Senator Markey introduced the SAFE Mail Act to mandate 100 percent screening of all inbound international mail and express cargo from high-risk countries for illicit fentanyl and other illicit synthetic opioids.
In 2019, Senator Markey introduced the Opioid Quota Openness, Transparency, and Awareness (QuOTA) Act, which would shed light on quotas and the secretive process by which the pharmaceutical companies gain approval to produce the deadly opioid painkillers. He has also introduced the LABEL Opioids Act, which would require FDA to issue regulations providing for a warning label to be affixed directly to the opioid prescription bottle handed to the patient by the pharmacist, and the bipartisan Safe Prescribing of Controlled Substances Act which requires any prescriber of opioid medication to undergo mandatory education on safe prescribing practices.
Senator Markey has long been a vocal advocate for children’s health care and medical research. In the House of Representatives, Markey was the founder and co-chair of the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Caucus and authored a bill to increase the ability of individuals with rare disorders such as CF to participate in clinical trials. Signed into law in October 2010, Markey’s Improving Access to Clinical Trials Act allows patients, including children, with rare diseases to participate in critical research without losing their public healthcare benefits. Senator Markey has also worked to ensure that medical devices – particularly those for children – are approved quickly while protecting quality and patient safety. In 2007, Markey passed a law that incentivizes the development of devices for children with rare diseases. The law also funds “pediatric device consortia,” which bring together innovators and device manufacturers to stimulate the development and availability of medical devices for children. He also took a lead role in improving and reauthorizing the bipartisan Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act and the Pediatric Research Equity Act. These laws were originally passed to ensure that medications that are used in children are actually tested and labeled appropriately by providing companies extra patent life on their products for conducting pediatric clinical trials.
Senator Markey has worked hard to ensure that medical devices – particularly those for children – are approved quickly while protecting both quality and patient safety. In the House of Representatives, Markey passed a law in 2007 that incentivizes the development of devices for children with rare diseases. It also funds “pediatric device consortia,” which bring together innovators and device manufacturers to stimulate the development and availability for medical devices for children.
Congress has a duty to protect Americans’ privacy, and Senator Markey is recognized as a leader in Congress in this important area. He is co-chair of the Congressional Privacy Caucus (CPC) which aims to educate members of Congress and staff on matters of individual privacy, to provide a forum for the discussion of these issues and to serve as legislative advocates for personal privacy. Markey has worked to prevent misuse of Americans’ Social Security numbers, tighten the law to reduce the risks of identity theft, shut down an online scam that attempted to attract users to a fake IRS Web site, and stop tracking of Internet users’ online activities.
Senator Markey has fought to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid benefits for the most vulnerable in society: seniors, low-income families, and the disabled. Markey authored a provision in the Affordable Care Act called Independence at Home, a program that provides seniors the option of receiving primary care services in the comfort of their own home. Each patient has a team of health care providers that is responsible for coordinating their care, helping seniors avoid trips to the emergency room, avoidable hospitalizations, and fragmented or confusing treatment. The Independence at Home program began in 2012 and is available to thousands of seniors nationwide.
Markey also has fought to protect Medicaid – known as MassHealth in Massachusetts – from budget cuts, arguing that Medicaid is already an extremely lean and efficient program.
Senator Markey is a leader in the fight to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health, the world’s preeminent medical research institution and our nation’s best hope for finding cures, improving treatments, and gaining a better understanding of the complex causes of diseases that affect millions of Americans. Last year, he was joined by 117 of his Democratic colleagues in requesting that Congressional appropriators provide the NIH with $32 billion for FY 2012. He believes this level of funding is necessary in order for NIH to sustain its mission of improving health through medical science breakthroughs and maintaining international leadership in science and biomedical research.
More than 25 million Americans experience vision loss that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to read the small print on prescription drug labels. In the House of Representatives, Markey included a provision in law to establish a working group to issue guidelines for pharmacies to ensure that people who are blind or visually impaired have access to prescription drug labeling. Senator Markey also introduced the Prescription Drug Labeling Promotion Act of to ensure that people who are blind or visually impaired have full access to the information included on their prescription drug labels.
Senator Markey is dedicated to ensuring that elderly Americans who wish to age at home have the opportunity to do so. To help, he created Independence at Home, a program that provides seniors the option of receiving primary care services in the comfort of their own home. Each senior has a team of health care providers that is responsible for coordinating their care, helping them avoid trips to the emergency room, avoidable hospitalizations, and fragmented or confusing treatment. The Independence at Home program began in 2012 and is now available to seniors nationwide.
Senator Markey is a leader in the fight to find a cure to Alzheimer’s disease. In the House of Representatives, Markey co-authored the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, which mandated the development of a first-ever comprehensive National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease. The plan includes the bold national goal of preventing or treating Alzheimer’s disease by 2025 and represents an historic commitment by the federal government to tackling the disease. Markey also introduced the bipartisan Spending Reductions Through Innovations in Therapies (SPRINT) Act, which would spur innovation in research and drug development for high-cost, chronic health conditions such as Alzheimer’s, as well as the Health Outcomes, Planning and Education (H.O.P.E.) Act to encourage early Alzheimer’s diagnoses and connect caregivers to information and resources. Markey also introduced the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act, which would require the National Institutes of Health to create a strategic plan to expedite therapeutic outcomes for those with or at risk of Alzheimer’s disease and coordinate Alzheimer’s research within federal agencies. In 1999 in the House of Representatives, Markey founded the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s and currently serves as co-Chair in the Senate.
In Senator Markey’s ongoing work to protect consumers from toxic chemicals found in household products that are linked to a host of health problems, in four consecutive Congresses, he introduced legislation to ban the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in food and beverage containers. In March 2012, Rep. Markey was the first member of Congress to ever submit a petition to FDA, requesting that the FDA permanently remove regulatory approval for the use of BPA in infant formula packaging. In July 2013, the FDA formally accepted the petition and changed its regulations to no longer allow the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in infant formula packaging.
Senator Markey also has urged the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency to close the regulatory gap that allows triclosan, a common antimicrobial ingredient linked to endocrine disruption, to continue to be incorporated into children’s toys, food contact products and soap. Markey raised questions about both the efficacy of this chemical, particularly in hand soaps, and the long term safety of continued exposure to triclosan. As part of this oversight he wrote to thirteen major companies asking them to remove triclosan from consumer soaps, toys and products that come into contact with food. The FDA recently issued a proposed rule to require manufacturers of antibacterial hand soaps and body washes to demonstrate that these products are safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness.
While serving in the House of Representatives, Markey co-authored legislation to give the Food and Drug Administration authority to ensure that personal care products, including products intended for infants, are free of harmful ingredients and that all ingredients that are used are fully disclosed to consumers.