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Public Statements

Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I have sought recognition to comment briefly on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was disclosed late yesterday by our distinguished majority leader, Senator Reid, to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude for the extraordinary work in putting together this very complex legislative proposal. Also, compliments are due to Senator Baucus, who chairs the Finance Committee, and Senator Dodd, who carried on the work of Senator Kennedy on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions bill. The bill provides for gross spending of $979 billion over a 10-year period, under the $1 trillion dollar mark. The coverage allocation is $848 billion. There are gross savings of $1,109 billion, and the deficit impact is to have a reduction of some $130 billion over the 10-year period. In the second 10-year period, the projection for savings is substantially greater. There will be millions of Americans covered who do not now have health coverage, so over 94 percent of all legal residents of all ages will be covered.

We are now digesting this very complex piece of legislation. The majority leader has scheduled a cloture vote for Saturday at 8 p.m. It is my hope and, candidly, my expectation that we will have the 60 votes to proceed for the consideration of this bill.

It is my view that inaction is not an option; that there are too many people not covered by health insurance or who are underinsured. The cost of health coverage is escalating at such a tremendous rate. It is having a great impact especially on small businesses. A recent prominent publication noted that rates for small business were being dramatically increased. Senator Harkin scheduled a hearing in the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. One of my constituents from Lancaster came in to testify that his premiums were rising by 128 percent. So I believe that inaction is not an option.

We have had many declarations of positions, and in the Senate, where you need 60 votes to move ahead, every one of those votes is indispensable. Only one Republican, Senator Snowe in the Finance Committee, supported the Finance Committee bill, so there was no margin for error. It would be my hope that my colleagues will not draw any lines in the sand, realizing that no legislative proposal is going to meet the expectations and the desires of every individual Senator. There are 100 of us. There are 435 Members of the House of Representatives. If there is an art to politics, it is an art of listening, of being flexible, and accommodation or compromise.

So we are undertaking a major historic event. Efforts have been made since the days of Theodore Roosevelt to have this kind of health coverage legislation. It is too important for us to fail.


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