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Health Care Reform

Location: Washington, DC

HEALTH CARE REFORM -- (House of Representatives - July 27, 2009)


Ms. LEE of California. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Let me just say I rise in strong support of this amendment and this bill, and I want to thank Chairman Obey for yielding, and I want to thank the chairman and his staff and my staff of the subcommittee and all of our staffs for producing this very excellent bill.

Mr. Chair, our Nation is in the midst of, as all know, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Families are losing their jobs, losing their homes, losing their access to health care. People are hurting, and they really do need our help. That's why this bill is so important.

From expanding support for education initiatives like early childhood education, to job training and employment services, to expanding access to health care and improving public health, this bill will provide a critical range of services and support for our constituents, especially during these very devastating times.

I want to thank the chairman for including a number of very important priorities that many of my colleagues requested, in particular, $653 million to strengthen Historical Black Colleges and Universities, predominantly black institutions, Hispanic-serving institutions, and other developing institutions. And this is a $110 million increase over the President's request for HBCUs.

Also, for a $54 million increase for HIV/AIDS funding through the Ryan White CARE Act and a $56 million increase for the CDC's HIV/AIDS bureau.

We also included $50 million for green jobs training programs, building on the $500 million we provided in the Recovery Act. And this is extremely important because there are those individuals who need to be trained and need the skills for this great trillion-dollar industry that is emerging in our country.

And, also, I want to thank the chairman for replacing the discredited and ineffective abstinence-only programs with the President's evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative to fund proven approaches to reduce unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. This is a huge, huge step in the right direction to ensure the health of our young teenage girls and boys.

These critical investments will help put our Nation back on the right track, and I urge my colleagues to vote for the amendment and the bill. I thank you, the chairman, for his leadership.


Ms. LEE of California. I rise in strong opposition to this amendment. The simple fact of the matter is the needle exchange programs do work. Since 1999, there have been at least 18 major reviews and assessments of needle exchange programs under the Republican and Democratic administrations, which concluded that needle exchange programs help reduce the spread of AIDS and other infectious diseases without encouraging or increasing drug use.

Studies also show that needle exchange programs serve as an effective entry for drug users to access the public health system and receive substance abuse treatment to help them overcome their addiction. And that is what it is about.

We all want to make sure that those who are using drugs overcome their addiction. This is a proven strategy. And so I ask for a ``no'' vote on this amendment. We have to remember, funding HIV/AIDS strategies involve prevention. This is a prevention measure.


Ms. LEE of California. Mr. Chair, I rise in strong opposition to this amendment.

Planned Parenthood provides critical health care services to women throughout this country, and in many places they are the only provider of family planning and reproductive health services.

An attack on Planned Parenthood is a direct attack on the 1.7 million women in this country who receive family planning service through this trusted provider.

The simple fact is that the federal government is specifically prohibited from providing support for abortions in this country--although I believe we've got to get rid of this prohibition.

Planned Parenthood has never violated the restriction on federal funding, and has taken great pains to separate its funding streams--however burdensome and unnecessary this really is--to ensure that it complies with federal law.

Denying funding to Planned Parenthood will deny critical health services to millions of women around the country and drive up the rate of unintended pregnancies for those who lose access to family planning programs.

Let's reject this ideologically driven amendment and support the rights of women to access the health services they need.


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