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Ms. PINGREE of Maine. Mr. Speaker, I am honored to be here in your presence today and to be here with my colleagues. I thank the gentlewoman from New York for allowing me this time.
I am so proud to be here casting the vote that so many of my constituents have waited way too long for. There has been a lot of hard work, a lot of facts and figures that have gone into the discussion of this important piece of legislation before us, and certainly over the last 10 months that I've been here. I want to spend my time talking about the story that is always on my mind when I'm talking about health care and is certainly on my mind today.
As a young father, my brother was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, a disease that I hope no one else ever has to face or face in a loved one. He had recently left his job to stay home to take care of his 2-year-old son. His wife had better pay. His insurance, of course, was temporary and soon withdrawn, and he had no public option to choose.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. They became poor so that they could qualify for Medicaid because no doctor would see him without insurance. The fact is, he passed away 14 months later, and I have often wondered would he have survived had he had the medical care that he needed.
That would be a very sad story if it had been 2 years ago, but in fact, my brother's death was 20 years ago, and back then we talked about the importance of making sure that no one was ever denied insurance because they had a preexisting condition. We talked about the fact that no one should have to go into personal bankruptcy or be poor because they don't have health care insurance.
I am here today, looking forward to casting my ``yes'' vote on this rule, on this health care bill, in the memory of my brother and of so many of my constituents and their families who have suffered through exactly the same thing, because I believe that this bill moves us much closer to a time when no one can be denied health care coverage because of a preexisting condition; no one can be told you can't have health care coverage; no one will have to go into personal bankruptcy. I am here in the memory of my brother. There can be no more delay.
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