The House approved a historic measure to reform our nation's health care system. The Affordable Health Care for America Act will reduce health care costs, and ensure all Americans have access to affordable health insurance options. Rep. Brad Ellsworth supported the bill and issued the following statement:
"This was a difficult decision; one that I have struggled with for months. But at the most basic level, my support for this bill is based on my strong belief that we literally cannot afford to leave this challenge unaddressed. To do so would be to endorse a status quo that denies medical coverage based on pre-existing conditions, leaves millions of uninsured Americans at risk, and does nothing while the cost of health care spirals out of control.
"As I considered the proposal, I weighed it against my 6 key principles of reform:
"First, the bill must prevent federal tax dollars from funding abortions. Together with pro-life Reps. Bart Stupak (D-MI), Joseph Pitts (R-PA) and other pro-life members and organizations, I fought to ensure federal funds are not used to provide abortions. Our amendment has the support of the National Right to Life Committee, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and other pro-life organizations, and its passage ensures federal tax dollars will not be used to pay for abortions.
"Second, the bill must reduce long-term health care costs for families, businesses, and government. The bill includes several critical provisions that will reduce health care costs throughout the system. For instance, by finally closing the so-called donut hole in Medicare Part D, we can save seniors thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses for their prescription drugs. The bill also puts the focus on prevention; eliminating co-pays for check-ups and other preventative services for every American.
"Third, the bill must increase choice and provide more affordable health insurance options for consumers. The bill establishes a national health insurance marketplace designed to increase competition and bring down costs for consumers. In addition, it allows consumers to purchase insurance across state lines through intrastate agreements.
"Fourth, the bill must extend insurance coverage to pre-existing conditions. During my relatively short time in office, I have heard far too many stories from Hoosiers who have faithfully paid their premiums and were denied coverage based on the fine print or pre-existing conditions right when they needed it the most. The bill ensures no American will ever again be denied health insurance simply for getting sick.
"Fifth, the bill must protect rural patients and health care providers. The bill ensures Americans living in rural areas have access to doctors and affordable, quality care through provisions designed to equalize Medicare payments to rural health care providers.
"Finally, the bill cannot add one penny to the deficit. The bill is completely paid for. In fact, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, this legislation will actually cut the deficit by about $30 billion over the next decade.
"I've always said that we will never achieve real health care reform without giving all of the stakeholders a seat at the table. And throughout this debate, thousands of 8th District constituents have weighed in. I want to thank those who took the time to contribute to this critical discussion; their input was valuable to me as I studied this issue and made my decision.
"This bill is not perfect, but no bill ever is. We cannot allow this historic opportunity to pass us by; it is time for us to act and move forward to ensure every American has access to quality, affordable health care once and for all."