Statement In Support Of HR 4872, The Health And Student Loan Reconciliation Bill
Today, we take a stand for hard-working middle class families who deserve a better value for their health care dollar. We take a stand for better health care for America's seniors. We take a stand for those who have been denied insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition or whose insurance is rescinded when they need it most.
This has been a difficult debate. There are strong, personal feelings about the issue of health care, because it affects all of us. This makes it even more important that we focus on the substance of health care reform, rather than engage in demagoguery, name calling, and worse. Republicans and Democrats alike know that our health care system is broken and not sustainable. Our country spends more on health care than any other developed country and we fall far below these other countries in the health of our people.
H.R. 4872 and the Senate health care reform bill, H.R. 3590, are not perfect, but they are a step in the right direction. The health insurance reform measure achieves the three key goals of affordability for the middle class, accessibility for all Americans, and accountability for the insurance industry.
More than 350 organizations support the health insurance reform legislation that we are voting on today. They include: the American Medical Association, AARP, Catholic Health Association, Main Street Alliance, Federation of American Hospitals, National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, American College of Physicians, Paralyzed Veterans of America, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Nurses Association, Families USA, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, National Women's Law Center, Consumer Federation of America, and the Consumers Union.
Once this bill is passed, Americans will see immediate benefits: seniors will start to see immediate relief from high prescription prices with a $250 rebate for Medicare beneficiaries who hit the donut hole; preventative services and immunizations will be free under Medicare right away -- eliminating co-payments for preventative services and exempting preventative services from deductibles; and small businesses that provide coverage to their employees will be eligible for a tax credit of up to 35% of premiums. The bill will also ban insurers from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions and eliminates lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on coverage.
These are real reforms yielding real benefits to people who are not getting their money's worth from the current system. It will soon be much harder to mischaracterize what this effort to change the health care system has been about once reform is enacted and the benefits accrue.
I was appalled at the news that my colleagues John Lewis, Andre Carson, Emanuel Cleaver, and Barney Frank were verbally insulted and in one instance spat on by anti-health care reform protestors yesterday.
The ugliness that this behavior exemplified reminded me of why "Live Aloha" is more than a motto to us in Hawaii. The Hawaiian word aloha, has deep meaning in my state; it is far more than hello or goodbye. To "Live Aloha" is to also have respect for yourself and respect for others, especially those with whom we disagree. To treat each other with decency -- not hatred, or racism, or bigotry -- is to "Live Aloha." I'm proud to represent a state where we strive toward that ideal.
My office has taken many calls and received many emails and letters on health care reform. A call that my office received on Friday was particularly heartfelt. It was from a woman on the island of Kauai who called to tell me that she and her 93 year-old friend both wanted me to stay strong and to vote in support of health care reform. I mention this particular call because it reminded me of the people and places I represent, who I fight for every day, and what this health care debate is all about.
In his recent address to the Democratic Caucus, President Barack Obama quoted President Abraham Lincoln who said, "I am not bound to win, but I'm bound to be true. I'm not bound to succeed, but I'm bound to live up to what light I have." This bill calls us to be true to the millions of Americans who want and need enlightened health care reform. It is a privilege to vote for H.R. 4872.