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Mr. Speaker, I just find it so interesting that here we are in the new 112th Congress and in the wealthiest Nation on the planet where nearly 50 million Americans still lack health care insurance, 13.5 percent of which are New Yorkers. Last year alone, New York City's hospitals spent $1.2 billion in charity cost. You see, in a city like New York, we're going to make sure that at the moment that people are most vulnerable, in an emergency, they're able to receive health care. But it has cost us $1.2 billion in charity costs.
Tragically, people who are either uninsured or underinsured often have to go without the vital health care services they need simply because they can't afford it. Every American has a human right to adequate physical and mental health care, and I believe that government has a responsibility to assist its citizens in securing quality health care. That's why I've been such a fervent supporter of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which passed the 111th Congress, because it does just that. It ensures that Americans have access to quality health care, and it makes sure that we begin an enlightened process of preventive care, which is the least expensive way of our being able to meet our health care needs.
Repealing this bill would mean that insurance companies will, once again, be able to drop coverage for people when they are ill, exactly when they need that coverage the most. It will mean that kids with preexisting conditions will be denied coverage once again. It will mean that insurance companies would again be able to impose devastating annual and lifetime caps. And it would mean that young people will no longer be able to stay on their parents' plan until the age of 26. It would mean that pregnant women would be denied coverage simply because they are pregnant, since pregnancy is considered a preexisting condition and therefore a basis for denial of coverage. And finally, our seniors, who face an increase in their prescription drug costs because they would be thrown back into the Medicare part D doughnut hole which the health care reform law would close by 2020.
With all that has been discussed about the virtues of health care reform, all that has already been implemented as a part of the health care packages of constituents in my district, people are recognizing how earthshaking and groundbreaking this legislation has been.
I would like to share with you a letter that I received from one of my constituents in the 11th Congressional District. His name is Jonathan. He says, Congresswoman Clarke, I am a two-time cancer survivor. I'm constantly worrying about being denied coverage because of my preexisting condition. I'm not comfortable that corporations under the old rules would have considered me unprofitable. I think it's a disgrace that this problem has existed in our country. I for one will move to Canada or elsewhere if health care reform is repealed and if I ever have a reoccurrence of my cancer. Meanwhile I think it's every American's responsibility not to allow other people with preexisting conditions to be denied coverage.
You see, Jonathan is not just thinking about himself. He recognizes that like himself there are millions of Americans across this country who may not have options of mobility to leave the country to seek health care but who need this legislation to go into full effect. And that's what we are here discussing today, the essence of what this legislation means for Americans across this Nation.
One thing about health care insurance, you often don't know what you need until you need it. And because there are individuals in our civil society, and many have referred to them as the invincibles, young people who are young, vital, physically fit, one tends to look after their health care after the fact. Well, we want to do a paradigm shift in this Nation where it brings down the cost of health care insurance. That means that every year we go through an annual physical. We know how our body is operating, and we are clear on that. And if by chance we develop a need or we're in a catastrophic accident of some sort, we have the coverage that will not allow us to go into bankruptcy. That's all that any family can truly ask for. And that's what we congratulate the last Congress on accomplishing.
What was displayed here today really was not forward leaning or forward thinking. It's our hope that the Senate won't even take this up because right now we're hearing from seniors who are saying, already we are looking forward to the support we can get for the prescription drugs that we need to address our chronic disease.
So as Jonathan noted in his letter to me, this repeal would once again allow big insurance companies who are only focused on profitability to deny coverage to him and so many others with preexisting conditions. I don't think we're going to allow Jonathan to be punished and denied coverage simply because he's a cancer survivor, and that's what repealing this health care law would do.
So I want to thank my colleagues for promoting this Special Order today and making sure that our voices are heard and the voices of our constituents are heard, who are really in favor of this legislation, this law of the land, actually, going into full maturity. Because as this law matures, more and more Americans will be covered, their families will be more secure, and we will be all the more healthier for it as a civil society.
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