Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn held a press conference to highlight the benefits of the Affordable Care Act for America's working families and small businesses. Below is a transcript of the press conference:
Leader Pelosi. Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for being with us today.
As you know, two years ago, the Congress of the United States made history. After 100 years of trying, finally, we passed health care for all Americans as a right for all, not just a privilege for a few. It honored the vows of our founders, of life -- healthier life, liberty, the freedom to pursue our own happiness. Today, we have people with us who are already benefiting, or will benefit, from the health care bill. I am pleased to be here with my colleagues, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Assistant Leader Jim Clyburn, and we will join together in presenting our guests to you. And a special -- grandpapa. Is that it? Calling you from the audience, your grandson. That is what it is all about. I would like to thank our friends, Bob Meeks, Brian England, Felicia Willems, Elizabeth Bartenstein, and Carmen Morales, for being with us.
Imagine, and this is not hard to do, being a parent who has a child with a preexisting medical condition, like asthma or diabetes, driving medical bills through the roof and forcing you to choose between paying the mortgage and paying the next doctor's appointment. Imagine being a college senior getting ready for graduation, looking forward to a successful career, but you cannot accept your dream job because they don't offer health insurance. Imagine being a senior who relies on Medicare for your health and economic security, but faces rising costs each year for preventive care and prescription drugs. Or a woman charged higher premiums, yes, women are, to the tune of a billion dollars more, higher premiums than men for the same coverage. Or a worker locked in a dead end job, unable to pursue your professional passion for fear of losing your insurance.
For too long these examples were not simply a matter of imagination; they were a matter of reality faced by millions of Americans. But that all changed for the better with health insurance reform, with the passage of the Affordable Care Act. We made history passing the bill for Congress. We made progress for the American people.
Imagine, Republicans want to turn back the clock and take away this progress from the American people. And they will be voting next week to do so over and over again. They keep bringing up, one way or another, to unravel it. In their budget, they will be voting on this, to end the Medicare guarantee, making seniors pay more for benefits. Already, the American people are seeing enormous benefits: 86 million Americans have received key preventive health care benefits under the law. For the first time in American history, millions of American women have access to free preventive health care. Today, no child in America is denied health coverage because of a preexisting medical condition. And more than 5 million seniors have saved over $3.2 billion in prescription drug benefits. Imagine, 86 million Americans have already benefited from this, and the full bill has yet to go into effect.
I am now pleased to introduce my colleague, a leader on this issue in the Congress on the fight for affordable health care, to improve the care, to increase the access, and to lower the costs for health care for all Americans, and for our country, our distinguished Whip, Mr. Hoyer of Maryland.
Whip Hoyer. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.
You know, we usually have our caucus meetings and Whip meetings in this room. And what a wonderfully diverse, wonderful crowd we have here, of working Americans, senior Americans, of very young Americans -- whose name is Lucas, very proud grandfather standing here. Now, let me tell you, I happen to be a great grandfather.
Leader Pelosi. That is not an adjective. He is that, too. But it is a generational thing. In addition to being excellent, he is also great.
Whip Hoyer. As I was saying: since it was signed into law two years ago, and we celebrate its signing, health reform has made it possible for over 32 million seniors on Medicare to access free preventive services. The Leader said that, but it bears repeating, because people need to understand the consequences of what this bill is doing for America and Americans. It has reduced the cost of prescription drugs under Medicare Part D, and it will eliminate the donut hole by the end of this decade. The cost containment provisions in the Affordable Care Act are already slowing the growth of Medicare spending, with many beneficiaries' premiums and deductibles already going down or growing at the lowest rates in years.
Republicans, on the other hand, want to end the Medicare guarantee and turn Medicare into a voucher program that would ask seniors to pay more than $6,000 a year out of pocket. Americans who are age 54 would have to save an additional -- listen to this -- an additional $182,000, just to cover their health care costs in retirement. The donut hole would reopen if we repealed the health care bill, swallowing an additional $44 billion in extra drug costs for seniors through 2020.
These are the kinds of figures we are talking about. Some of you, like me, in this room are seniors, and you understand the consequences of that increase. You are now going to hear from an American who was falling into the donut hole every year. And I want to thank him for being here.
But thanks to the Affordable Care Act, his Medicare prescription drug costs are much lower, and as I said, the donut hole is closing. So, I want to welcome Bob Meeks here. And we want to hear from somebody who has real experience, real knowledge, and real conviction.
Mr. Meeks. Good afternoon.
My name is Bob Meeks, and I am 75-years-old, or as one of my grandsons pointed out, Papa, that is three quarters of a century. He didn't have to say that. I live in Bradenton, Florida, near Tampa. I am here on behalf of the Alliance for Retired Americans, and for every senior citizen that is in this country that is covered by the ACA.
During my working career, I was a freight truck driver and a car hauler. Two years ago this week, people like [Leader] Pelosi, [Whip] Hoyer, and [Assistant Leader] Clyburn, along with President Obama, had the courage to stand up to the special interests and enact the Affordable Care Act, which is helping millions of seniors like me better afford to see a doctor and fill a prescription.
I have been in the Medicare donut hole ever since it began in 2006. When you are in the donut hole, you must continue to pay your full monthly Medicare D premiums to the insurance company, but you receive no prescription drug benefits. To me, being in the donut hole is like going to a restaurant, paying full price for a meal, and the waiter brings you a plate, empty. I am not in the best of health. I must take seven daily medications, and nearly all are brand names. I suffer from COPD, severe arthritis, and high blood pressure.
Before the Affordable Care Act, I would fall into the donut hole every year around May. My prescriptions were costing me $1,200 a month, and I had to pay it all. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I received a $250 check in 2010. That helped. And in 2011, my monthly drug costs of $1,200 a month went to between $600 and $800 a month, depending on my health, while I was in the donut hole.
This has been a huge help to me and my wife. I know many seniors are confused and skeptical about the new law. But here is what I would say to my fellow seniors and everyone here on Capitol Hill: the Affordable Care Act is good. It works. It is saving seniors lots of money. Don't be fooled by politicians and their friends who try to scare you.
To the Members of Congress here today, thank you for helping me and millions of other seniors. And please, I implore you, don't give up the fight. I am living proof the Affordable Care Act works.
A little side note to those in D.C. that oppose the ACA. Don't remove it; improve it. Thank you.
Whip Hoyer. Very good, Bob. And I think, hopefully, to the folks in D.C., and I presume you mean more particularly on this Hill, take your advice. Improve it; don't remove it. I want to thank you for that contribution. And a real experience, not just somebody debating on the floor of the House of Representatives saying: "it doesn't do this, it doesn't do that." Bob is an example of exactly what it does do. And it makes a difference.
Passing the Affordable Care Act was especially important at a time when our economy has forced many families and small businesses to make difficult choices about spending. So many Americans have had that happen to them. That is why one of the key parts of the Affordable Care Act is about bringing costs down for small businesses, so they could afford insurance for themselves and for those who work with them.
Three hundred and sixty thousand small businesses have already claimed part of the $40 billion in tax credits created by the Affordable Care Act, to help them provide affordable coverage to over two million workers. To talk about the positive effects that health reform is having on the small business he and his wife own in Maryland, let me invite Lucas' grandfather, Brian England, up to the podium.
Mr. England. Thank you for the opportunity to come here today. And as you can see, we are a family business. And this is Lucas. He is going to be two soon. We are committed to offering health insurance to our employees. But over the past 10 years, it has become a real struggle. We have been accustomed to rates going up anywhere from 10 to 20 percent. And it has been very difficult to find different ways to deal with that.
We have got a great agent that really works hard to give us different options, but it still ends up that we have to pay the bill. Then we renew our insurance in August, so we start thinking about this in May. And, well, standing up here is really nerve wracking. Well, that is what it was like this year, because we had heard the previous year that rates were going to go up 20 percent, 30 percent; all sorts of scary things were going to happen. So when my wife Jennifer and I sat down with the agent in front of us, we were pretty nervous about it, because we pay $70,000 a year for health insurance for our employees. So if it was going to go up 30 percent, that is $20,000. And that is the same amount of money as employing an apprentice. That is a lot of money. And where was it going to come from? So we sat down, and it was just total disbelief when he said it was going to go down 6 percent -- 6 percent down.
So we made no major changes to our group. It is the same insurance company, same average age. Everything was the same, and it was going down. So it was just unbelievable news. On top of this, there was going to be a new package in our insurance that allowed for all our employees on the plan to get preventive care with no copay. So that was a real boon.
The first thing I asked: "why?" You know, our agent explained it was the medical loss ratio. Well, that sounded like Chinese to me. I didn't know what that was about. In any case, I did research it, and it means that 80 percent of my premiums are actually going to go to medical care. That seems amazing. That is what it is about. So our rates went down.
As a small business owner, I am committed to providing good value to our customers. It seems only fair that insurance companies should provide us good value. You can see how nervous I am.
Whip Hoyer. You are doing fine.
Mr. England. Thank you very much. Okay.
So we are so glad something is being done about the health care. I want to thank, Leader Pelosi, very much for what you have done. I know this is a very risky thing; I saw what happened, so I really appreciate you doing this. This is so important. I know it hasn't been easy. But you know, the health care is working for my business. It works in our community, with the local health improvement part. It is working for individuals. It is right for America, and it is right for future generations. It passes this technician's inspection test with flying colors.
Thank you very much.
Assistant Leader Clyburn. I am Jim Clyburn, and I represent South Carolina's Sixth Congressional District, and I am proud to serve as Assistant Democratic Leader.
Too often in this town, the conversation gets bogged down into arcane process and thorny policies and political calculations. You have heard the terms "bending the cost curve," "motions to proceed," "who wins, who loses." All of that really missed the point of this landmark legislation. It is not about this town. It is about real people and their families and their health care. It is about saving lives, saving money, and saving Medicare.
I am pleased to be here today with two people, two real people with some very powerful stories. The first one I am going to introduce I can really identify with. As the grandfather of a preemie, who came here 90 days before we expected him, who weighed three pounds and four ounces, had three operations before he turned 20 pounds. So I can relate to Felicia Willems' story. Felicia is from Raleigh, North Carolina, and she is going to tell you about her son, Ethan.
Ms. Willems. Good afternoon.
Like he said, my name is Felicia Willems, and my son, Ethan, was up here with me a moment ago. I want to especially thank Leader Pelosi for giving me the opportunity to come out today and share our story with you, and let you know how the Affordable Care Act has helped our family.
In 2006, my husband and I were very excited parents to be. He was a law student, and I was a manager for a major department store. We were newlyweds. We had just bought our first home. And we felt like we were prepared to start a family. I was going to continue working while my husband continued law school, but all our plans changed when our son was born.
Ethan was born with a vascular tumor that required chemotherapy. At just six-weeks-old, he was put on oral steroids and Tylenol with codeine. Because he was so small, the doctors had to do surgery to insert an external port into his heart to administer the chemo. The port had to be monitored constantly to avoid infection. Ethan had three surgeries and multiple rounds of chemotherapy before he was one-year-old.
Ethan needed around the clock care. And I had no other choice other than to quit my job so I could provide that care. And when I quit my job, we lost our health insurance. We were incredibly fortunate that Ethan qualified for Medicaid. Without it, he most likely would have lost his leg and possibly his life.
Not having employer based health insurance proved to be quite expensive. We had no income, and now we had to care for a sick child while balancing a mortgage, monthly bills, and expensive insurance premiums because of my own personal health issues.
Thankfully, Ethan's tumor began to heal around the time he turned one, and we spent the next year just catching him up to a normal level of development. My husband and I managed to hold our heads above water financially for two-and-a-half-years. We lived frugally, stretching the savings we had as much as possible, and taking out student loans. But in the end, we still had to sell our home and move in with family.
Ethan's third year was fantastic. He graduated from all of his therapies and started preschool. He was not just walking now, but running, jumping, and hopping with no pain whatsoever. In his fourth year, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. Even though Ethan had overcome his illness and had proven more than most people will ever have to that he is strong and will fight to be healthy, without the Affordable Care Act, he would face a lifetime of struggling to get health insurance because of his medical history. The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurers from limiting or denying benefits or coverage for children because of a preexisting condition.
In October of 2010, Ethan's oncologist gave him a clean bill of health for the first time in his entire life. And now that insurance companies can no longer consider his preexisting condition a factor, we have been able to officially close that chapter in our lives.
Our family's health care struggle may be over, but there are millions of other families out there who are dealing with serious medical problems and still need help. We cannot pull the rug out from under these families who are finally beginning to feel some relief as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Moms Rising members know how important it is for families to get and maintain affordable health insurance. That is why we worked so hard to get the law passed and why we will keep fighting to keep it from being repealed or reversed. We worked hard to move our country forward on health care, and we are not going back to the days when health insurers could deny coverage to our children because of a preexisting condition, or drop us when we get sick. We will keep fighting to make quality, affordable health care a reality, to ensure that we are not just a country who pays lip service to family values, but who truly values families and understands the struggles we face. Thank you.
Assistant Leader Clyburn. Thank you very much, Felicia.
In the middle of the health care debate, I found myself doing a radio talk show that allowed call ins. A gentleman called in and began to castigate me and President Obama and all the Democrats for pushing for health care reform. He said that he had his insurance. He liked his insurance. And he didn't want anybody fooling with it. Well, a few moments later, a lady called in. And she says, "Congressman, I don't have a question, but I would like to say something to that gentleman who called in a few minutes ago. Maybe he likes what he has because he has never tried to use it." She said: "I liked what I had until I tried to use it." And she told the story of contracting cancer, breast cancer, at 48 years old, after being on her insurance since the age of 23. And at the second visit to the doctor, she got a notice from her insurance company saying she was being dropped.
I am going to introduce now Elizabeth Bartenstein. She will tell you her story as to why her health, her family's health, is too important to leave the decisions up to the insurance company.
Ms. Bartenstein. Good afternoon, everyone.
My name is Elizabeth Bartenstein, and I want to thank Leader Pelosi and Whip Hoyer and [Assistant Leader] Clyburn for the opportunity to tell my story today. I know how important it is to have the opportunity to join my parents' health insurance plan.
In October of 2009, I had just moved back to my hometown, Richmond, Virginia, for a job at a small nonprofit. I didn't qualify yet to be covered by my new employer, and I couldn't join my parents' plan in the interim because I was too old. My parents wanted to help, but there was little they could do. My mom works for a church, and my dad had lost his job during the recession.
And then the impossible happened: I had a horrible accident at my apartment, involving my gas stove, where I received second and third degree burns on my chest, arm, and hands. With the help of a neighbor, I was able to walk next door -- luckily there was a hospital within walking distance -- and she took me to the hospital. And after being admitted, they decided to transfer me to the MCV burn unit downtown because my burns were so severe. I was kept there overnight, and my family and I were more scared about what was to come than we were about the accident that had just happened, because we all understood how expensive just one night in a hospital can be.
So as scary as this was to me and my family, the pain truly after that was the bills. There were lots of them. By the time all was said and done, I owed tens of thousands of dollars for one night's stay in the hospital, and I was completely uninsured. Not only will I forever remember that fateful morning, but I am still paying off the medical debt, and likely will be for many years to come.
I have definitely made health coverage a top priority ever since. And after leaving the first nonprofit job, I obtained individual coverage until I was insured at my next job. However, the insurance I had at the new job was inadequate. And so, in the meantime, with the new health care reform, since the law was enacted, I was able to add to my mother's plan, which we did as a backup. But it turned out that that was a necessary backup. Because now I am in an interim job that does not offer health insurance, and I don't have to worry about what that means for my health.
And I would like to thank Leader Pelosi for her tremendous leadership on this issue. And I would like to thank groups like the Young Invincibles for giving voice to the challenges our generation faces in obtaining quality affordable health care. I wished the Affordable Care Act had been passed sooner, but I am glad that it is now the law of the land. I don't have to worry any more that an unexpected accident could leave me owing medical bills for years to come. And now I don't have to worry about insurance coverage when making a career move. Thank you.
Leader Pelosi. Thank you very much Bob Meeks, Brian England, Felicia Willems, Elizabeth Bartenstein.
And now I have the privilege of introducing Carmen Morales. This is pretty exciting for me, because the issue of health, this bill affects women, is something quite remarkable. Because up until the passage of this bill, being a woman was considered having a preexisting medical condition. No more. In recent weeks, as we all know, the issue of women's health has taken center stage. In the Affordable Care Act, we put women at the center, ensuring that women are in charge of their own health decisions and providing access to life saving preventive care.
Consider just a few benefits for women in the Affordable Care Act: it bans insurance companies from dropping women when they get sick, or when they become pregnant; bans insurance companies from requiring women to obtain a preauthorization, or referral, for access to OB/GYN care. You would think this would be so obvious.
Beginning this summer, it ensures free comprehensive women's preventive care services, including contraception, in new plans. It ends the common practice of gender rating, charging women substantially higher premiums than men for the same coverage, beginning in 2014. As I said earlier, it ensures that being a woman is no longer a preexisting medical condition.
I am now pleased to introduce Carmen Morales, who will share her powerful story about the personal benefits of health care reform to her.
Thank you, Carmen, for being with us.
Ms. Morales. Good afternoon.
I would like to thank Leader Pelosi, Whip Hoyer, and Assistant Leader Clyburn for this opportunity on the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. I am a nurse practitioner and a certified diabetes educator in Bakersfield, California, at Kern Medical Center, a public hospital. Let me tell you about how the Affordable Care Act is making an impact in my community.
Recently, we had a 25 year old, previously uninsured, but now covered through her mother's insurance plan, come to us because she found a suspicious lump. Twenty five years old is awfully young to be finding these kinds of things, but as it turned out, she had a very strong family history of breast cancer. She was able to get the necessary tests and treatments. And as it turned out, it was cancerous. We got her into surgery quickly, and we were able to remove the lump. And thankfully, we got it all.
Her access to our clinic probably saved her life. Because we caught it early, we were able to avoid a disfiguring and costly surgery. Now, she will be able to have follow up care to make sure the disease doesn't return or come to another part of her body. She will be able to get the necessary testing she needs for her other family members, her children, her daughters. And she will be able to take care of her family. I am going to continue to advocate for the Affordable Care Act because I have seen how it works, how it saves lives. I want my patients to remain healthy, and I want them to be able to lead productive lives. Right now, in Bakersfield, there is a team of nurses who are out on the floors educating patients about the Affordable Care Act. And I am asking you to please make sure that this work does not end. It is so important. Thank you.
Leader Pelosi. Our very special guest. Well, I am going to yield to his mom from Moms Rising to tell us what is going to happen now for a moment.
Ms. Willems. We have brought a book full of stories from Moms Rising members from all across the country, who have shared their stories with us, to tell us how the Affordable Care Act has helped them in their own families' lives. And it also includes our story.
Leader Pelosi. It says: "Moms Can't Be Rattled." And it has a rattle at the beginning. We are standing strong for the consumer protections we have won through the Affordable Care Act. Thank you very much. Thank you. The rattle is here someplace. Thank you very much. Thank you all very much.
As you hear from these stories, this is the liberation. This is what our founders had in mind, ever expanding opportunity for people. If you want to be a photographer, or a writer, or a musician, whatever, an artist, if you want to be self employed, if you want to start a business, if you want to change jobs, you no longer are prohibited from doing that because you can't have access to health care, especially because you do not want to put your family at risk.
How many people in America, do you think, have a preexisting medical condition? That is, they may have been sick when they were little, or they have had cancer and are now cancer free, and isn't that a celebration? But you always carry the preexisting condition and the discrimination with you; until now. Until now. And we cannot let that be rolled back. That affects tens of millions of Americans directly, and their families as well. So our whole country.
With that, we would be pleased to take just a few questions, hopefully on this subject.
Q: Leader Pelosi, the Republicans introduced their budget this week, part of which would repeal this act. What is your reaction to the GOP's budget, in addition to not only repealing the Affordable Health Care Act, but also lowering the levels from the BCA and cutting programs for other programs as well?
Leader Pelosi. Well, the gentleman's question is about the budget in general, and it does have an impact on our conversation here, in terms of health care.
Right from the start, the Republicans have tried to make an assault on the Affordable Care Act. It is hard to understand why they would be against ending preexisting conditions from keeping people from getting health insurance, and women from getting preventive care, and children from having the access to care that they need. But for whatever reason, they do. And bless their hearts, they act upon what they believe.
They do not believe in this bill, and they are trying to roll it back. We cannot let that happen. At the same time, in their distorted priorities in their budget, I am a little hyped up about this today, because this bill is in the process of being written, their budget bill, before it comes to the floor. They pass their bill. We will have our alternative, I hope, but the fact is that in the bill, they break the guarantee, the Medicare guarantee, for seniors. That means seniors pay more, over $6,000 more, I think Steny mentioned that figure, over $6,000 more. And all the money you would have to save in advance, $182,000.
What could they possibly be thinking? I will tell you what I think they are thinking, and I don't question their motivation. They don't believe in Medicare. And bless their hearts, again, they are acting upon their beliefs. Their belief is that Medicare should wither on the vine. And this budget is a step in the direction of Medicare withering on the vine. And so we see a situation where they put forth a budget which doesn't even honor their own agreements, in terms of what the amount that budget should be, breaks the Medicare guarantee with seniors, raises costs, cuts jobs. It is simply not a statement of our national values that a budget should be.
And I want to yield to Mr. Hoyer and Mr. Clyburn for any comments.
Whip Hoyer. No, I think that covers it.
Assistant Leader Clyburn. No.
Whip Hoyer. Let me say, one thing I do want to add is, there was bipartisan opposition to the budget that came out of the Budget Committee. It was a totally partisan bill, in terms of passage, but it was a bipartisan opposition to that bill because it has the wrong priorities. And in fact, in my opinion, it will make the debt, deficit, and the economy worse, and move in exactly the wrong direction, as well as undermining the guarantee and confidence that people have that Medicare and Social Security, and other programs, will be there for them when they need it.
Q: Leader Pelosi, you and your Democratic colleagues have been spending the last few days marking the second anniversary of health care but President Obama has not. As the person with the biggest bully pulpit, perhaps in the country, should President Obama be using it to talk about health care this week?
Leader Pelosi. I think the President has been absolutely great on health care. Without the President, we would not have this bill. Every day, since the passage of the bill, the administration has moved in a very positive direction to implement it, so we stay on schedule, so many of the benefits that people are enjoying now are put forth.
The Secretary of Health and Human Services, many Cabinet Secretaries, people in the administration are taking the message forward in the country. And without the President, no bill.
I will just tell you this. The day after the bill was passed, the President called me and said: "last night, when the health care bill was passed in the House, I was happier than I was the day I was elected President of the United States." Is that beautiful? So I said: "well, I was pretty happy last night, too, Mr. President, but not happier than when you were elected President of the United States. Because if you weren't elected President of the United States, we would not be passing this historic legislation to make progress for the American people."
We are very grateful to the President for his leadership.
Q: Madam Leader, with the case coming before the Supreme Court next week, do you have any anxiety about what may happen next week, and if the court rules against the mandate and what you are talking about here?
Leader Pelosi. Well, I am thinking in a much more positive vein than you just posed it, but I guess that is a fair question. And again, if my colleagues have anything to say about the President's participation, or the case next week. We knew what we were doing when we passed this bill. It is ironclad constitutionally. What happens in the courts is another matter. But we believe that we are in pretty good shape going into the court.
It is interesting, though, because our Republican colleagues, this may be more on the subject than you want to know, but they have been opponents, they have been opponents of judicial review. They have said that the Congress, when the Congress acts and the President signs the bill, that is the law of the land, and they oppose judicial review, meaning the courts can review the constitutionality of a law.
In fact, they even said Marbury v. Madison, which established the principle at the beginning of our country, was wrongly decided. That was then. So opposed are they to opposing their friends in the insurance industry, to whom they are handmaidens, that they have even broken with their opposition to judicial review to take this important bill, which means so much to the American people, to the courts.
But I have faith in the courts and I have faith in the bill. And we will see what happens next week. Well, we won't know next week, but I know all of America will be watching to see the proceedings. At least meaning every American who has a child with a preexisting condition, a family history that can be so described, any woman who is concerned about her health, or the health of her family, any senior who is concerned about Medicare and what that guarantee means to a person's health and their economic security. It means anybody who cares about innovation in our country, for a new kind of health care that is not just about the health care in America, but the good health of America, about prevention and the rest, about innovation to take us to customized, personalized care, anyone who cares about lowering costs, expanding access, and improving the quality of health care. That sounds like it should include a lot of people, at least people who are aware of what is in the bill.
So, I hope that all of you will help us make people more aware of what is in the bill, because it really honors the greatness of our country. Senator Kennedy, right as we were in the debate, and toward the end of his life, said: "this is the great, unfinished business of America, that all people should have access to quality, affordable health care as a right for all Americans, and not just a privilege for a very few." And so, in that spirit, we are proud of the work that was done. It was a compromise. It wasn't the bill I would have written. But it is a bill that is making a big difference.
I pray that the courts will make the right decision. But we have sent them, they have been sent the right bill. So I thank you all very much. Let us thank our real people who are here today. Thank you all.