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Ms. KAPTUR. I want to thank you, Congressman Tonko,
for your leadership on so many issues that relate to the well-being of the American people and our economy.
Health care is one-sixth of the leg of the stool that holds up the Republic. It is a major industry. When you look at all of our medical hospitals, all of our schools, the nursing profession, dentistry, and you take it all together, it is a massive employer across our country.
Congressman Garamendi, coming from California, your experience is so vast in terms of your leadership at the State level there, and now here as a Member of Congress. So I'm very proud to stand with colleagues from New York and California, coastal powerhouses, from the State of Ohio right in the middle of the country there.
I wanted to add to your discussions this evening some real-life stories that illustrate what you've been talking about tonight. Here's a story from Toledo, Ohio, a real story of a couple that was forced to drop their health coverage after the wife got sick and their health insurance premiums jumped from $800 a month in 2007 to $1,200 a month in 2008. How many families across our country, when somebody gets sick, the premium goes up? This bill is wonderful because it doesn't allow that to happen.
For this family, the cost in 2009 would have risen to $1,600 a month, with a $2,500 deductible. So what did the couple do? They dropped their insurance. They couldn't afford the insurance, even though the wife was sick. But because of the law that we passed, the wife received coverage through a high-risk insurance pool that was set up within our State following the passage of the law. They're paying $400 a month--less than they paid before, half of what they paid before--and they have a $1,500 deductible. Literally, the new insurance coverage saves them $15,000 a year, which for them was unaffordable. That's why they dropped their insurance. But just that family alone tells us how important this act is. And think of how many cases across this country have similarities to theirs.
From Marblehead, Ohio, which is very central to the district that I'm privileged to represent, a small business owner, a woman, was diagnosed with lupus. She was turned down by multiple insurance companies because she had a preexisting condition. But because of this act and the high-risk insurance pool in Ohio, she was able to obtain a plan for $315 a month, with a $2,500 deductible--that was her choice. But she has obtained insurance, even though she has a preexisting condition. How many Americans have you said have preexisting conditions? This allows them to continue to pay, not be canceled. So they're contributing to the pool, the insurance pool; and they're able to take care of themselves.
Finally, the third example I wish to place on the table is a senior citizen couple that faced a $3,000 to $4,000 bill, an extra prescription drug cost, after the husband developed a staph infection. How many families do we know have relatives that develop staph infections? That required them to spend a lot more money in 2009 and 2010 on prescription drugs. Thankfully, the husband's health has improved, and they've saved money thanks to the doughnut hole provisions you talked about that took effect in 2010. So they didn't have to pay that extra money for the prescription drugs necessary that you have to take when you get an infection. You have to take those for a very long time, and they're very expensive. The wife said of their situation:
For seniors like Paul and me living on limited income through Social Security, these costs were not a joke. Because of the Affordable Care Act, no senior will ever have to go through what Paul and I spent that year doing.
By the end of this decade, that doughnut hole will be completely closed at the rate of $500 a year; $500 a year to a senior citizen is a mountain of money--$50 is a lot of money because they're on limited incomes. Most people depend on Social Security to hold their lives together. So to get bills of $500 or $5,000, it's an impossibility.
I challenge every American who's listening to my words tonight and every young person who has a conscience, go to the supermarket and look for some of the people who are staring at the vegetables, or raspberries, or fish, and they can't afford to buy it. Maybe you could slip them a couple bucks in the supermarket--nobody would even know about it. I've done that so many times. And they can buy something they want that they can't afford to buy.
So when you're a senior citizen, limited income is a real fact of everyday life. So for all of the millions and millions of Americans, Congressman Tonko, that you talked about, this is being lived life by life, family by family in the State of Ohio.
I'm very pleased to join both of you and to thank the President of the United States for having the guts to stick with his convictions, and our Speaker then, Nancy Pelosi, for fighting so hard for every vote in this House and really helping to lift all of America to a different plane for the future.
The last thing I will say is, I come from a small business family. Our father was one of those people that had to sell his business because he got sick. He had to get health insurance for his family, so he went to work for an automotive company.
And I remember how ill he became, and what a horrible choice that was for him back then.
Half the uninsured in this country are small businesses. The law says if you have 50 or under, you don't have to provide insurance; but if you're interested, those exchanges will be there for you. And there will also be plans that your employees can buy into if they want to.
Wow, do I wish that had existed in the 1950s when we were growing up as young children and our dad could have had that plan so he wouldn't have had to sell his business. What a difference that would have made in our family.
And that story is repeated by the tens of millions across this country. Half of those who could potentially benefit are small business owners and their workers.
Thank you for doing this Special Order tonight as we speak on behalf of the American people.
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