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Ms. PINGREE of Maine. I thank the hardworking chair of the Rules Committee, Ms. Slaughter, for yielding me the time.
As we get ready to cast a vote to finally reform our health care system and rein in the insurance companies, I want to tell you what I hear from my home State of Maine where people are frustrated and struggling.
A woman named Margaret told me about her small business. She said, ``I own a small business that employs 10 Maine residents. Anthem has announced a 23 percent increase in my rates. In 4 years, rates with Anthem have almost doubled. I cannot afford to provide health insurance for my employees.''
A man named Mark told me about his latest letter from the insurance company. ``My wife has been paying more than one-third of our entire income for her health insurance and that doesn't cover the high copays and prescription drug costs. She just received notice from her insurance company that they are raising her rates another 30 percent. It's impossible. We can't do it.''
And Ron told me about living on the edge. He said, ``I was out of work and lost my insurance, for 18 months. I am a cardiac patient and have other chronic illnesses that require constant care and constant prescription drugs. After 18 months with no insurance, I lost everything.''
These people wrote to me from Maine, but the stories are told every day in every State. Americans are denied insurance, have their coverage canceled, or find themselves bankrupt just because they got sick.
Today we will change that with our vote. Today we will start to end the worst practices of the insurance companies, like denying coverage for preexisting conditions or canceling your policy when you get sick. Today we will improve health care for our seniors, strengthening Medicare, closing the doughnut hole, reducing prescription drug prices, and making sure they don't have to pay to get a checkup or get screened for diseases like cancer or diabetes. Today we will make sure that Americans don't go bankrupt because of medical bills. And today we will make it easier for small businesses and individuals to afford coverage, bringing the largest health insurance tax break in history for small businesses and individuals.
We have a chance to truly reform our system. I will be voting ``yes.''
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