Eshoo Argues on House Floor for Bill to Cover Children Born with Congenital Anomalies or Birth Defects

April 4, 2022
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representative Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Chairwoman of the Health Subcommittee, led debate on the House floor on her legislation, the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (ELSA), which ensures health insurance coverage for needed treatment and procedures for individuals born with congenital anomalies or birth defects. The legislation will be voted on under suspension of the rules this evening. A downloadable video of her speech can be found here and the written speech is below:

Madame Speaker, I rise in full support of H.R. 1916, the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act. On behalf of the four percent of American children born annually with congenital anomalies or birth defects, I’m very proud to sponsor this much-needed legislation.

This bill will ensure that health plans do not deny or delay medically necessary treatment of congenital anomalies. In many cases, coverage for well-known anomalies like heart defects of Spina Bifida is already the standard. But for babies who have oral defects such as cleft palates, skeletal defects, congenital cataracts, or hearing defects, insurance companies have systematically denied or delayed medically-necessary treatments.

I became the sponsor of this legislation after Kevin Koser testified before my Health Subcommittee about his beautiful son Kannon. He shared with the Subcommittee how Kannon asked Santa Clause for teeth so he could “chomp big bites” of food. I was really shaken by that and the fact that in a country as rich and great as America, we put treatment that would allow a child to eat out of reach because of insurance red tape.

A baby named Rosie in my Congressional District is one of the 1,300 babies born in the U.S. each year with congenital cataracts. In just a few months her family spent over $4,000 out-of-pocket on contact lenses for her. Now without these lenses, babies like Rosie are blind and they have no chance of ever developing normal vison.

These stories are repeated across our country every single day. But today is the day that we can begin to change that. This legislation is one of the most popular in the House with 316 bipartisan cosponsors, including more than half of the Republican conference. The time has come for this important, popular, and much-needed bill to finally pass the House of Representatives.

I reserve the balance of my time.