Congresswoman Chellie Pingree spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives today in favor of the historic health care reform legislation now being debated. Pingree told the story of her brother, who lost his health insurance while battling melanoma.
"I'm here in the memory of my brother," Pingree said. "He had no public option to choose. He did what so many young families did. They spent down their savings, they sold everything they had so they could qualify for Medicaid because no doctor would see him without insurance."
"I have often wondered," Pingree said, "if he would have survived if he had the medical care he needed."
Pingree said the health care reform the House is considering would protect others from losing their insurance coverage.
"This bill moves us much closer to a time when no one can be denied health care coverage because of a pre-existing condition, no one can be told you can't have health care coverage, no one will have to go into personal bankruptcy."
"I am so proud to be here casting the vote that so many of my constituents have waited too long for," Pingree said. "There can be no more delay."
Pingree says the health care bill will improve health care coverage for those who already have insurance and provide access to health care for 75,000 people in Maine and 36 million people nationally who don't currently have insurance.
"This bill will help seniors by reducing prescription drug prices and closing the donut hole, it will help those who have coverage by cracking down on the worst practices of the insurance industry, and will provide subsidies to nearly 360,000 Maine individuals and nearly 40,000 Maine small businesses to make insurance more affordable," Pingree said later.
Yesterday, Pingree's Rules Committee held the final hearing on health care reform legislation in a session that lasted over 12 hours and heard testimony on over 200 amendments.