* Mr. McNERNEY. Madam Speaker, I rise today to express my proud support for the passage of historic health reform legislation earlier this year. I am glad the Congress, after working for more than nine months, was able to pass comprehensive health care reform that will reduce the growth in health care costs, cut the deficit, and provide affordable health insurance for an additional 32 million Americans.
* The package passed by Congress, which includes H.R. 3590 and H.R. 4872 as enacted, will reduce the deficit by $143 billion over ten years and by more than $1 trillion over the second decade. Enacting responsible health care reform will provide health care security for individuals, families, and small businesses across the country. This legislation will ensure that individuals can no longer be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition or kicked off their insurance when they get sick. Health care reform also places caps on annual and lifetime out-of-pocket costs so that individuals and families will no longer go bankrupt due to an illness.
* Despite the benefits and enhanced Medicare protections that I am confident health reform will bring, I wish to stress the importance of vigorous oversight of the newly created Independent Medicare Advisory Board, IMAB. H.R. 3590 establishes such a board, whose goal is to reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending. I strongly support the need to control costs, but I believe elected officials who answer to the people should make the key decisions affecting health programs. Medicare beneficiaries expect Congress to take responsibility for shaping Medicare, allowing Americans a voice through their elected representatives in determining the benefits they receive on a daily basis.
* H.R. 3950 wisely prevents IMAB from recommending measures that would ration health care, increase Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing, or otherwise restrict benefits. However, we must remain vigilant in our oversight of IMAB to ensure that the board serves our constituents' best interests.