Congressman Mel Watt (12th District of North Carolina) made the following statement about today's House vote on the Affordable Health Care for America Act:
"Today the House took a historic step by passing the Affordable Health Care for America Act. In my seventeen (17) years of representing the constituents of the 12th District of North Carolina in the House, health care reform has been an unfulfilled dream as Congress continued to kick the can down the road providing no real reform for the American people. Passage of this bill begins the process of reforming our nation's health insurance system and ensuring access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans.
There are currently over 129,000 uninsured individuals in my district. Final passage of this legislation would provide these benefits for them and other residents in the 12th district:
* Coverage for 17,100 individuals who are being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions;
* Improve employer-based coverage for 365,000 residents;
* Credits to help pay for coverage for up to 204,000 households;
* Improved Medicare for 94,000 beneficiaries, including starting to close the prescription drug donut hole;
* Allow 19,000 small businesses to obtain affordable health care coverage and provide tax credits to help reduce health insurance costs for up to 16,500 small businesses;
* Protect hundreds of families from bankruptcy resulting from health care costs;
* Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and health care providers by $83 million; and
* Guarantees of better health care coverage for those who already have insurance.
I am proud to have voted for this step toward real health care reform and I hope the Senate will soon finish its work on a bill we can send to the President's desk so the American people will finally get access to much needed health care."