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Public Statements

Health Care Reform

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. KAPTUR. I thank the gentlewoman from California, Congresswoman Woolsey, for calling us together tonight on such an important topic and rise to speak for decent health insurance for all of our people as essential to respecting life, to preserving life, and to protecting life from the very beginning to the very end.

The health system we have now does not adequately respect, protect, or preserve life. In fact, America doesn't even rank in the top 12 of global nations in terms of the quality of our health care. That is truly shocking. Yet we spend enormous amounts of money, and yet so many people are left out. There's not time to talk about all of them tonight in 5 minutes, so I am pleased to join my colleagues in focusing on women and children of this great Nation who need health care reform.

In our country, every year, more than a half million, 530,000 babies, one out of every eight, are born premature in our country. Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death and a major cause of lifelong disability. These outcomes are morally wrong, and they are ultimately very expensive, very expensive to our society, most expensive to those children.

The March of Dimes reports that, in 2008, more than 20 percent of American women of childbearing age, more than one-fifth, 12.4 million American women, were uninsured. They also report that uninsured women receive fewer prenatal services and report greater difficulty in obtaining needed preventive care than women with insurance. Ohio, the State that I represent, is among the worst States for its premature birth rate. The primary reason for this is because we have among the highest rates of uninsured women.

If we think about some of the most gruesome aspects of what happens, in 2006, which was the most recent study conducted in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control, in our country, 846,181 abortions were reported. Studies have shown that for approximately three out of four women who have an abortion, their belief is they cannot afford a child, and that was one of the key reasons for having to make that life-changing decision. Economic hardship, lack of access to health insurance and to health care, and even the lack of medicines all play a part in the gruesome number of abortions and premature births in our country.

The women of our Nation, the children of our Nation, all people of our Nation deserve a better chance.

The bill that's working its way to the floor will ban preexisting conditions and help expand coverage and access to women's health care, prenatal health care, to all of our people. It provides financial assistance surely to women who want to bring their baby to term or put the child up for adoption but fear they simply cannot afford it. What a terrible choice that must be for any woman. We know that the bill before us will improve community health clinics. In so many of our communities, they are the only lifelines to any health care at all.

Importantly, the bill that is moving to the floor intends to leave no one out, even the smallest among us, even the most voiceless among us. The bill we will soon consider has some fine points yet to be perfected. There is no question that for women and children, finally, all will have access to decent health care coverage, and it will be a great day in America when that will be possible.

All of us have situations in our own families where we have seen relatives grow older. This was certainly the case in our family, and without Medicare our grandmother would have had a very different end. Lyndon Johnson gave her dignity. All the Democrats and some Republicans who created that program in the House back in those days made the end of her life one with dignity. We would hope that that would be the case for all of America's families, the beginning of life to the end of life.

I thank the women of the House and Congresswoman Woolsey for making this evening possible.

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