"I want to extend a very warm welcome to Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi, and Governor Gary Herbert of Utah. Thank you for appearing before our committee today on such an important topic.
"I am very disappointed by what we are going to debate today. First of all, national healthcare reform is one of the most important and historic pieces of legislation that Congress has ever passed. As the world's richest country, providing affordable healthcare services to as many Americans as possible should be our nation's foremost moral obligation.
"Therefore, it is difficult to comprehend--after the historic healthcare reform legislation was signed into law to provide for nearly 46 million uninsured citizens and with 8.6 million of those being children--why on Earth we are trying to unravel what has taken us so many years to stitch together!
"As we speak, these numbers are increasing. Since the start of the recession in 2009, more than 6 million individuals have enrolled in Medicaid. The vast majority of low-income individuals who will become eligible for Medicaid under health care reform do not have access to affordable, private health insurance coverage.
"Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, my Republican colleagues have shaded the truth again by saying Medicaid's expansion under the new health reform law will provide coverage to Americans who would have otherwise been covered by private insurance. This is simply not true. On the contrary, healthcare expansion will significantly reduce the numbers of low-income families that are uninsured and effectively increase access to care for many of this nation's vulnerable populations.
"I am shocked that my colleagues are attempting to transform the debate over health care reform into a matter of "money." Maintaining good public health does not come with a price tag. Instead, we should be looking at the increased productivity and long-term fiscal and business-related savings that national health care reform will yield. Rather than continuing to fight to repeal or to significantly water down historic legislation that is now the law of the land, this Committee should be searching for ways to actually help states find ways to deliver affordable, high quality health care
services to those Americans who desperately need it.
"In my home state of Illinois, we are facing some very serious health care challenges.
Medicaid cuts to hospitals, nursing homes and other providers will devastate the well-being of hundreds of thousands of Illinois citizens and our state's health-care delivery system. Our children and families will lose their health care in these challenging economic times as they face the grim prospect of job losses, home foreclosures, and increased discretionary spending of household budgets on rising food and transportation costs.
"We simply cannot let these people and families down and it seems to me that dialing the clock back makes absolutely no sense at all.
"I yield back."