WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-34) was one of two politicians named Distinguished Legislators of the Year by the American Public Health Association.Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) also was recognized with the award. "I extend my sincerest thanks to the American Public Health Association for honoring me with this year's Public Health Legislator of the Year award," Roybal-Allard said. "I commend Dr. Georges Benjamin, the organization's executive director, and the entire APHA organization for your strong voice of advocacy for public health and prevention in America, and for your tireless efforts to eliminate health disparities in our vulnerable and underserved communities." Roybal-Allard is the new chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' Health Task Force and recently introduced legislation to help those with cognitive impairments navigate the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. She has also spoken out on such public health issues as access to maternity care, insurance coverage for children, HIV/AIDS among Latinos, and improved mental health and substance abuse services. Roybal-Allard served three terms in the California State Assembly before becoming the first Mexican American woman elected to Congress in 1992. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee's Labor, Health and Human Services and Appropriations Subcommittee, she oversees funding for all health-related programs and agencies of the federal government, including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. She co-founded the bipartisan Congressional Study Group on Public Health to educate members and staff about public health issues. Among her health-related efforts, she authored the Folic Acid Promotion and Birth Defects Prevention Act, which became law as part of the Children's Health Act of 2000. She introduced the STOP (Sober Truth on Preventing) Underage Drinking Act, which was signed into law in 2006 and coordinates federal programs and research initiatives on underage drinking and funds a national media campaign to educate parents. The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act, also signed into law, trains doctors and nurses in newborn screening and educates parents about appropriate follow-up care. To garner increased support for investing in public health, Roybal-Allard authored a resolution expressing support in Congress for an "increased federal commitment to prioritizing prevention and public health for all people in the United States." The bill was endorsed by more than 160 health advocacy groups.
********** Published: December 11, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 33