U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (W.Va.- 03) issued the following statement regarding the healthcare reform bill, The Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962), which was passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 220 to 215 on November 7th, 2009.
"I have been a pro-life Member of Congress since I was first elected in 1976. I believe in the sanctity of life for those of all ages -- young and old, and I believe that every life deserves to be saved, which is why I voted in favor of H.R., 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act."
"Healthcare is an issue that crosses every geographic, economic and cultural boundary. Throughout all the healthcare discussions, the clearest message I received from southern West Virginia is that healthcare and its insurance costs are out of whack. Healthcare has gone up 131% while incomes have only risen 38%. It's time to turn the tide."
"I voted for those who are dying every day because of lack of health insurance. I voted for those who do not have the financial ability to pay for doctors' visits or their medical treatments. I voted to make health care affordable not just for each and every one of my constituents, but for every person in this Nation. I also voted in favor of the Stupak-Ellsworth-Pitts amendment that codifies the Hyde amendment and was included in the final passage of this bill."
"The stark reality is that many of us already have or will face a time in our lives when our health needs will outpace the means of our insurance. No American should live in fear that an illness could send them and their family into financial ruin, nor should they be in fear that they will have to make a choice between putting food on the table or getting their prescriptions filled. I believe no American should live with the knowledge that they simply can't afford the follow-up care that could save their lives."
"I voted to bring an end to those fears and to bring an end to the moment when a diagnosis becomes a death sentence for those without health insurance."
The Affordable Health Care for America Act will end insurance company discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions; it makes coverage more affordable by capping out-of-pocket spending, ending co-pays for preventive care and providing premium subsidies for those who need them. It will give tax credits to small businesses resulting in 86% of America's businesses being exempt from the shared responsibility requirement and it improves overall choice and competition for the consumer when it comes to choosing an insurance plan.
This bill will result in health care coverage for 96% of Americans and will lead to significantly reducing the current cost of providing uncompensated care for millions of Americans. It will also strengthen Medicare by extending its financial solvency by 5 years, eliminating the prescription drug "donut hole" coverage gap and by providing free preventive care and wellness check-ups. It will strengthen oversight and enforcement measures to cut down on fraud, waste and abuse in the health care system, which is estimated to cost more than $60 billion every year.
This legislation also allows young people to remain on their parents' insurance policy up to age 27; allows individuals to keep their COBRA health coverage until the Health Insurance Exchange is up and running; allows for States to enter into agreements to allow for the sale of insurance across state lines and ends the blanket exemption of insurance companies from anti-trust laws.
In the Third Congressional District this legislation will provide coverage for 70,000 uninsured residents; improve Medicare for 133,000 beneficiaries, including closing the prescription drug donut hole for 10,600 seniors; protect up to 800 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs; improve employer-base coverage for 289,000 residents; provide credits to help pay for coverage for up to 195,000 households; allow 12,300 small businesses to obtain affordable health care coverage and provide tax credits to help reduce health insurance costs for up to 11,000 small businesses; and, it will reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and health care providers by $158 million.