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Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34) Joins Congressional Colleagues In Voting For Passage Of Historic Health Insurance Reform

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Location: Washington, DC

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34) Joins Congressional Colleagues In Voting For Passage Of Historic Health Insurance Reform

Citing the many benefits to the families of the 34th Congressional District and the nation, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34) joined her congressional colleagues in voting in support of the sweeping health insurance reform legislation.

"This health insurance reform legislation represents an important milestone for our nation as we take a historic step toward acknowledging health care as a universal right for everyone," said Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard who is a member of the Appropriations Health Subcommittee and Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Task Force on Health. "The measure will stop the insurance companies' worst practices such as denying a person coverage because of a pre-existing condition, dropping coverage altogether after diagnosis of an illness and arbitrarily hiking up premiums. "

"I believe it is critical that we pass this legislation to address a crippled health care system that has been failing our country," added Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard. "While we pay more than any other country in the world for health care, we die younger with the highest rates of preventable deaths among 19 industrialized nations. With the passage of this bill, we will improve the quality and affordability of health services, prioritize prevention and the reduction of health disparities, and take the necessary steps to begin to rein in the escalating costs of health care in this country."

The following is the full text of Congresswoman Roybal-Allard's floor statement submitted into the congressional record about the legislation:

Madam Speaker,

I rise in support of the Senate Amendments to H.R. 3590 -- the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This legislation represents a milestone in our nation's history. Building on the promise that was begun with the passage of Medicare in 1965, we take an historic step today toward acknowledging health care as a universal right for everyone.

The people of America have suffered far too long from a health care system that is unaffordable, discriminates on the basis of gender, disability, and pre-existing conditions, and frequently denies coverage for lifesaving services and treatments. While we pay more than any other country in the world for health care, we die younger with the highest rate of preventable deaths among 19 industrialized nations. Obviously this status quo is unsustainable and the time for change is now.

The bill we are voting on today reflects many long months of discussion and compromise. Clearly it is not perfect, and many of us would have preferred to see the bill go much further towards granting universal access to health care for every man, woman and child in this country. But with an issue that impacts so many stakeholders, and involves so many competing interests, it is doubtful that any single legislative effort could ever satisfy everyone and address all the problems we face in our current system.

So while this bill falls short of what many of us had hoped would be included in a final bill, I believe it is critical that we move forward today in response to a crippled health care system that has been failing our country. With the passage of this bill we will improve the quality and affordability of health services, prioritize prevention and the reduction of health disparities, and take the necessary albeit difficult steps to rein in the escalating costs of health care in this country.

I will be voting for this bill today for the people in my 34th Congressional District of California. Over 23% of my constituents live below the federal poverty level, and 40% of them are uninsured. In 2008, over 1100 of my constituents faced health care-related bankruptcies caused primarily by health care costs that were not covered by their insurance. This bill will extend coverage to 185,000 of my constituents, and will guarantee that 28,500 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage while protecting those who do have insurance from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.

I will be voting for this bill today for the small businesses in my District. With its passage, over 16,000 small businesses in my district that have 100 employees or less will be able to join the health insurance exchange, benefiting from group rates and a greater choice of insurers. H.R. 3590 will also help make small businesses more competitive by providing tax credits that will make it more affordable for them to offer health insurance to their employees. In my district approximately 15,000 small businesses would quality for these credits.

As chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Health Task Force, I will be voting for this bill today for Latino communities all across the country. It is of great concern to me that this segment of the population continues to face the highest uninsured rate of any racial or ethnic group within the United States. In fact, a recent report found that 42% of Hispanic adults lacked health insurance compared to the national average of 16 percent.

This legislation will provide access to affordable health care to the millions of uninsured Latinos in this country through Medicaid expansion. The legislation will also provide access to health insurance exchanges and subsidies to help low and moderate income families. Additionally, the bill expands Community Health Centers which have been a cornerstone of primary care services in communities of color, and expands coverage for preventive care which has been disproportionately inaccessible to minorities.

Finally, I will be voting for this bill today for the women and mothers in this country who have long managed the health care of their children, their spouses, and the elderly in their families. This legislation will mandate coverage for maternity care, so all women will be able to give their babies the healthiest start in life.

By preventing insurance companies from dropping coverage for extended illness or denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, it will give moms the peace of mind knowing that their children and spouses will have the health coverage they need if they become ill or suffer from a genetic condition or disability. As their young adult children start out in life, they can protect them by keeping them on their family insurance policy until their 26th birthday.

And who among us will not be more secure knowing that our parents will be protected from the Medicare Part D donut hole which has made life saving medications so unaffordable for those that need them most?

Madam Speaker, I thank you for your courage, tenacity and leadership throughout this year of deliberation on Health Care Reform. We owe you, the Majority Leader, and the Leadership team of this House a debt of gratitude for bringing this House to this historic day. I am proud to cast my vote for the passage of the Senate Amendments to H.R. 3590 -- the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.


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