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Public Statements

Health Care Reform

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. Speaker, here we are a day away from a very big vote. The bill has been read, the details have been debated, the amendments have been offered, the fights have been fought, the misinformation has been peddled. But now we are left with the facts. We are left with the facts that the bill we are voting on tomorrow will, according to the Congressional Budget Office, reduce the deficit of this Nation by over $100 billion in the first 10 years of its existence and by over $1 trillion in the second 10 years of its existence. This bill contains every reasonable and good idea that has been offered by credible health care economists for how to bring down the costs of our health care.

Is there risk? Of course there is risk. This body may choose not to do some of the things it has said it will do. Some ideas will work. Some will fail. There is risk. But to try to do nothing is the biggest risk of all.

We have spent so much time on the economics and the cost, and now I think, as we reflect on the last day, that we return to the moral question associated with health care reform. At the core of the moral question, to my way of thinking, is the fact that this Nation protects its own, that we look after each other, that we won't let you die.

I need to tell you about my friend, Dave Roberson. He was a good, close friend, and a fellow parishioner at the First Presbyterian Church at Greenwich. A volunteer, an activist, a former NASA engineer, a kind, thoughtful smart man who lost his job at NASA 6 years ago. And with that loss of his job, he lost his health insurance.

Dave had a heart condition. He didn't see a doctor for 6 years. He got no advice. He got no help. And 2 weeks ago, driving home, he lost consciousness for reasons that they believe had to do with his heart condition and drove his car into a wall and was killed. We buried Dave Roberson today, a good, fine man whom we did not stand for, whom the health care system failed. Dave worked his career so that his Nation could explore space. But his Nation, our country, couldn't do what was needed to keep Dave on Earth.

And by the way, Dave is no lone individual. One hundred twenty-three people will die every single day because they don't have adequate health care coverage, 123 Americans every day like Dave Roberson. We don't do this. If our enemies attack, we spend billions to send men, women, and equipment to defend the lives and the values of this Nation. If your house is on fire, we send men, women, and equipment to put out that fire. If you're assaulted, if an intruder enters your home, we don't ask, we send police, equipment, the resources to save your life. But if you get breast cancer, if you have diabetes, if you get leukemia, we don't make that same promise. We might help you if you have a job and can keep that job, if you're not too old, if you're not maybe a woman with a history of domestic violence, we might help you. But we didn't help Dave Roberson. And we don't help the 123 Americans who die every day because we do not live true to the promise that we look out after each other. On this we can do better.

And it's not just the Democrats who think so. It is 250 organizations, including the AARP, the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the Catholic Health Association, the Consumers Union, the League of Women Voters, the list goes on and on of organizations who say, we can do better, we can live more true to the values of this Nation.

I hope that each and every one of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle when the vote comes tomorrow will say, we'll send the military. We'll send the fire. We'll send the police to save your life. And now being true to the values of this Nation, we will save your life if you get sick.

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