-- Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) today joined a majority in the House of Representatives in passing H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. The legislation, which provides needed insurance reforms for Americans with insurance, expands coverage for those who do not have insurance, lowers costs for families and businesses, and begins to reduce the nation's deficit, passed the House with a 220 to 215 vote.
"Today's historic vote marks a moment of true change for our nation!" said Rep. Baca. "In 1935, we passed Social Security. In 1965, we enacted Medicare. In 2009, we will enact quality, affordable health care for all Americans!"
"For too long, the American people have suffered the consequences of America's broken health care system," continued Rep. Baca. "People across the nation have faced the status quo of higher premiums, worsening care, and denials for pre-existing conditions. Even worse, 47 million people, including 217,000 in my Congressional District, lack even the most basic care! The passage of the Affordable Health Care for America Act will finally help to end the greatest humanitarian and economic crisis of our time."
"H.R. 3962 is a giant step forward in our work to provide quality, affordable health care for all Americans," added Rep. Baca. "This legislation ends denial of coverage for preexisting conditions, so people with diabetes, cancer and other illnesses will no longer be left in the dark. It finally fixes the donut hole' and protects Medicare for our seniors, so no one will ever have to choose again between putting food on the table or buying medicine. It lowers costs, so families will no longer have to worry about declaring bankruptcy after a loved one has a serious medical procedure. It protects coverage and choice for those currently insured, and provides coverage to 96% of all Americans. The bill also reduces our nation's deficit, and will help to slow down the out-of-control growth of health care spending."
"I am proud to stand with President Obama and fight for the change this country needs," said Rep. Baca. "I am pleased the Republican alternative proposal was defeated today. The Republican bill simply keeps the status quo, and does nothing to improve care or lower costs for the American people! The 13 million people without insurance in California, and the 217,000 uninsured in my District, can no longer afford the status quo!"
To ensure individuals and employers have the greatest choice possible when selecting health insurance plans, H.R. 3962 creates new, state-run Health Insurance Exchanges that will offer a variety of insurance plans and alternatives. These exchanges will include both private insurance companies and a public health insurance option. This public option will operate on a level playing field, and provide long overdue competition to the current insurance monopolies.
H.R. 3962 also contains other long-overdue reforms to the health insurance industry, including:
* An extension of COBRA benefits for workers who lose or change jobs;
* Provisions to prevent price gauging on insurance premiums;
* Yearly caps on out-of-pocket medical expenditures;
* Ending co-pays for routine checkups and preventative care; and,
* Provisions to allow children to stay on their parents' health plan until they reach age 27.
"Reforming America's broken health care system will increase equality and provide greater economic opportunities for all Americans," continued Rep. Baca. "This legislation finally ends insurance discrimination against women, the elderly, or those with pre-existing conditions -- and ensures that everyone receives the care they deserve."
"I am proud to serve the 43rd Congressional District in this time of historic change," concluded Rep. Baca. "It is an honor to cast a vote for legislation that improves the quality of life for so many Americans, and makes the United States a better place for future generations. Everyone deserves access to affordable, quality health care. With the leadership of President Obama and the Congress, we can and will create a health care system that works for all Americans. It's time to move forward. Adelante!"