* Mr. BACA. Madam Speaker, as Members of Congress, it is our duty to pass real health care reform this year.
* Perhaps no state is in greater need of this reform than my home state of California.
* Two hundred seventeen thousand people in my Congressional District go everyday without reform.
* And for California as a whole--we have 13 million uninsured residents!
* The people of California, and people across the United States need health care reform that:
* Ends discrimination based on pre-existing conditions!
* Ends dropped healthcare coverage because you get sick!
* Ends co-pays for preventative care!
* And ends skyrocketing costs for individuals and families!
* The Republican alternative does none of these things!
* It simply keeps the status quo! It costs more! And does nothing!
* The 217,000 people living in my District without insurance cannot afford inaction any longer!
* The 13 million people in California without insurance cannot live with the status quo!
* The 15 hundred families in my District who went bankrupt because of health costs cannot afford the status quo!
* Now is our opportunity to make history--and to move America forward!
* We must not be short-sighted and focus only on politics and polls.
* As we work for health care reform, I also urge my colleagues to pass a bill that does not include costly and discriminatory verification requirements like the SAVE requirements.
* Our Nation cannot afford either the humanitarian or the fiscal costs of a health care immigration verification process.
* As a Christian--my faith teaches me that we must love our fellow man, and care for them as if they were our brother or sister.
* If a sick person is at the doctor's or the hospital--they need help!
* They do not have time to wait for a lengthy background check to determine their citizenship status.
* Can you imagine the medical errors we will have if we have to run an immigration status check every time someone who looks different needs medical care!
* This can lead to a dangerous precedent of racial profiling! People may be denied life-saving care simply because of how they look!
* From a fiscal perspective--numerous studies have shown us that immigration screenings cost our nation much more in tax dollars than they actually save.
* SAVE requirements would become unfunded mandates that add to the administrative cost burden of our States!
* In my home State of California--Los Angeles County spent $28 million in 2008 to implement tougher verification standards on the Medi-Cal program!
* I repeat--$28 million!!
* And how many undocumented immigrants did this $28 million help to catch actually using Medi-Cal benefits? Zero!!!
* Is this a cost-effective practice?! Or is this a burden on county governments?!
* A mandatory verification requirement in this health bill would only add to the current cost burden of emergency rooms!
* We should be working on policies that encourage people to go to clinics, where they can receive proper preventative and routine care.
* SAVE electronic verification would push more and more people into the emergency room--where all of us will be left to pick up the tab!
* Additional SAVE Program Verification also hinders access for the general public to health care.
* This has certainly been the case since states have been required to verify legal status for Medicaid.
* According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities--anywhere from 3 million to 5 million U.S. citizens have lost Medicaid coverage because they lacked the necessary paperwork (birth certificate or passport) to prove their citizenship.
* By introducing mandatory electronic verification procedures--we are creating additional hurdles for Americans to access the care they need!
* And what would be the cost in new liability suits?!
* And think of our current situation with H1N1. Families need access to care immediately--to stop the spread of further outbreaks!
* This would be chaos! It would burden our entire healthcare system with a costly and ineffective unfunded mandate.
* From both a humanitarian and a fiscal point of view--we cannot afford mandatory electronic verification.
* I am pleased the manager's amendment to this legislation does not include mandatory verification for people looking to access the health care exchange.
* I urge my colleagues to remain vigilant on this issue--and work to stop any mandatory electronic verification requirements.
* I am also pleased the larger bill includes the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.
* As a Member of the House Native American Caucus and the Natural Resources Committee--I have been a strong supporter of ending the health disparities that exist on our reservations.
* I will close my statement by again stressing the importance of this historic moment!
* We passed Social Security in 1935. We passed Medicare in 1965.
* I urge my colleagues to stand with the American people and pass legislation in 2009 that will make quality, affordable health care a right for all Americans!