Stabenow Closing Statement on Finance Committee Health Care Bill
Today, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, voted in favor of the health insurance industry reform proposal. It passed in committee by a margin of 14 to 9. Below is her closing statement as prepared for the record.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for all of your hard work over the last year putting this bill together and getting us to this point.
The America's Healthy Future Act is a long-time coming. This process started over 100 years ago, when President Teddy Roosevelt first called for a national commitment to health care coverage for all Americans.
Today, we are one step closer to achieving that goal.
This bill closes the gaps in coverage that have left millions of Americans without the health care they need. From pre-natal care, to childhood, to young-adulthood, through the working years, for early retirees, and into old-age, this bill covers every stage of life with quality, affordable health care coverage.
And it makes Medicaid a real safety net for low-income Americans.
We know that in 60% of insurance plans in the individual market, a woman cannot buy maternal care for any amount of money. I'm proud that this bill will change that, giving a woman the care she needs so her baby can have a chance at a healthy start in life.
In 2030, when that baby turns 21, she will be close to graduating from college. I got a letter from a mom in Marshall, Michigan, whose son, Justin, is today in the same boat. Justin is a smart young college student with a bright future ahead of him, but a few years ago he was diagnosed with leukemia. He's doing great now -- his doctors say there's a 90% certainty that his leukemia won't come back -- but his family is worried about how he'll get insurance when he graduates. This bill would give him new and expanded choices: and unlike now, he won't be denied or charged more because of pre-existing conditions.
By 2039, our newborn baby will have turned 30, and hopefully will be starting her own family. If she has insurance through her job, she'll have better insurance than we have now. She won't have to worry about pre-existing conditions; she'll have a health policy that's focused on prevention and keeping her healthy. If she doesn't have insurance through work, or if she's self-employed, she'll be able to shop around for the best coverage on the new exchanges, where the information will be presented clearly and transparently to help her select the best policy for her needs.
In 2064, that baby will be 55, and might decide to retire early -- or might be forced to retire early. For her, and for the millions of Americans who have taken early retirement, this bill creates a new reinsurance plan to cover the few individuals who get very sick, so it doesn't push up premiums and eat away her retirement savings. Less than half of people age 55-65 have full time jobs, and for many of these people, their "golden years" have become "golden arches years" where they are working minimum wage jobs just to pay rising health care costs. This bill will bring down those costs and give older Americans real relief.
Finally, in 2074, a little girl born this year will be able to get Medicare -- because this bill makes the right investments in quality and cost-savings to protect and secure Medicare for years to come. We're changing the payment incentives to reward quality of care, prevention, primary care, and to help close the prescription drug "doughnut hole."
Every child in America deserves a healthy future. This bill will make that healthy future a reality.