In front of a room packed with health care professionals inside the Joseph A. Floreano Riverside Convention Center, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter was presented with the lifetime achievement award from Anthony L. Jordan Health Center.
The award, presented by Luncheon Chair Kijana Crawford, celebrates Slaughter’s long career as champion of public health and reform in the health care system.
“This is a person who reflects the proud mission to provide high quality health care regionally, and across the whole country,” Crawford said.
Preceding Slaughter’s acceptance speech, Crawford pointed to many of the health-oriented agendas Slaughter has promoted in her 30 years representing the 25th District. Specifically, she pointed to the $500 million sum Slaughter, in 1993, earmarked for breast cancer research by the National Institute of Health. This was the first sum of this magnitude for breast cancer research secured by congress. Likewise, Slaughter sponsored a bill, now made into law, which allows women and minorities to participate in clinical studies. Before 1993, all clinical trials carried out by the National Institute of Health were performed exclusively on white men.
Reflecting on her storied career in public office, Slaughter pointed to a litany of other accomplishments in the public health field, following up on a speech by Dr. Rich Kittles on genetics.
“As I think we just saw in Dr. Kittles’ speech, every human being is 99.9 percent alike,” Slaughter said. “We might come in different skin packages, but that’s only skin deep.”
Slaughter pointed her sponsorship of the Affordable Care Act, and the accessibility it brought to the medical field, as a highlight of her career. She specifically pointed to allowing children to stay on their parents insurance until they turned 26 and removing lifetime caps on insurance coverage.
“Before the ACA, if you hit your head at 5 and racked up a million dollar bill, that was it, for the rest of your life,” Slaughter said. “Not anymore.”
Slaughter also mentioned removing domestic violence as a pre-existing condition, subject to higher premiums, in eight states and the District of Columbia. These policies were outlawed following the passage of the ACA. Slaughter also promoted her stance as an advocate for the rights to women’s health and reproductive rights.
“We believed that women, along with their doctors and whoever else they choose to include in the process, should make decisions about their health care,” Slaughter said. “Not elected officials.”
Perhaps her most ambitious endeavor, a policy which took 14 years to pass into law, was the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008. This act barred taking genetic information, such as predisposition toward disease, into account in health care pricing and employment.
“We had reams of people let go because of their genes,” Slaughter said. “This won’t happen anymore.”
With a seemingly endless list of policy under her belt, from providing resources to homeless children to placing limits on the sale of antibiotics, Slaughter remains humble. Standing with members of Jordan and wielding her newly earned plaque, she thanked the people of Rochester for her accomplishments.
“This happened because of all of you,” Slaughter said. “This is not my lifetime achievement, it’s yours.”