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Public Statements

Health Care

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BROWN of Ohio. Mr. President, I come to the floor pretty regularly to read letters from Ohioans, from people in my State, about things in their lives that are important to them. I think in this institution we--all of us, myself included--too often forget the pain of so many people at home who have lost jobs, who have lost hopes, who have lost health care.

I think often about--as I know the Senator from Oregon does--how difficult it would be for a parent to explain to their son or daughter: I lost my job and we lost our health insurance and now we may have to move.

Nobody has worked harder in the Senate than the Presiding Officer from Oregon on fixing HAMP and reforming some of the programs that can help people stay in their homes. I appreciate the work the Presiding Officer does.

My letters today are from people all over Ohio about health insurance. It was a long fight to be able to take on the insurance companies and basically say to the insurance companies: You are not going to run this health care system the way you have, excluding people with preexisting conditions, denying claims after they have turned in their insurance after they have been sick, dealing with all the problems people have.

The business model for health insurance in this country too often has been the insurance companies hire a bunch of bureaucrats to keep people from buying insurance--the preexisting condition exclusion--and then hire a bunch of people on the other end, when someone gets sick and turns in their insurance claims, to try to deny them their claims. I understand insurance companies do that. I do not even blame insurance companies because they are all competing with one another. They may have to do that. But the fact is, it does not work for our health care system.

That is what we fixed last year, and that is what Ohioans understand. I guess I--I do not want to say ``resent,'' but in some ways I do resent when I see conservative Washington politicians, who, for 20 or 25 years, have had taxpayer-financed health insurance for them and their families, and now they want to vote--in the House of Representatives, and some do here--to take away benefits for senior citizens or take away benefits for small businesses or young people who have a preexisting condition or others.

I will not take too long, but I wish to read three or four stories or maybe a handful more than that.

Laura--I will only mention first names. These are letters from people in Ohio who have written me. Laura, from Dayton, in Montgomery County in southwest Ohio, writes:

My youngest nephew has juvenile diabetes and he just started college in-state. Due to the new health care law, he will be able to stay on my older sister's health care insurance plan when he graduates from college.

My third oldest nephew can now go back on my second oldest sister's insurance plan.

It appears [that some in Congress care] more about money than the American people. Please fight for me so I won't have to worry about losing my health insurance plan if I get seriously ill in the future.

This story comes from Christine in Medina County, up close to where I live. It is a county south of Cleveland. She writes:

My name is Christine and I want to tell you the story of Carol ..... my mom. .....

Nine years ago, my father was downsized. His position of over 40 years was eliminated and so was my parents' health coverage. My father was only a few months shy of retirement so Medicare was available to him and my mom was on COBRA. My mom's employer of over 20 years had just recently shut its doors and while she found work through a temp agency, it was only part-time and she didn't qualify for benefits.

A few months later my mom was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and Emphysema.

Fortunately, her life was not in immediate danger and their lives were coasting along until her COBRA ran out.

COBRA is a plan you pay a lot of money for. Actually, you pay the employer's and the employee's side--yours and the employer's--to get coverage for up to 18 months after you lose your job and your insurance.

Christine writes:

..... have you ever tried to find healthcare coverage for someone with a history of cancer and emphysema? I can, so from personal experience, it's infuriating, but I was able to find it. It would ..... cost her $1,400 per month--

Mr. President, $1,400 per month--

with a $4,000 deductible per year.

That means she would pay insurance--$1,400 a month. She would not be able to collect on any of her bills until she had already paid an additional $4,000 out of her pocket.

This was more than my parents were bringing home each month so needless to say whatever savings and retirement they had was used up quickly. What other option did [they] have?

During this time, my mom's health deteriorated. She required chemo and several hospital stays due to her lung collapsing. ..... I remember sitting with her in the hospital and listening to how worried she was about how she was going to pay [her] bill.

As if these kinds of illnesses are not bad enough in the stress it causes to a family, the anxiety it causes to a family, on top of that, they just wonder: What do we do about insurance? We know people get sicker and recover more slowly when they have that kind of anxiety about paying the bills.

My parents are good people. My dad is a veteran. They worked their entire lives and sacrificed to give me and my older sisters a better life than they had. They were fortunate to have 3 tireless advocates always looking out for them. Not everyone has that.

She then goes on:

State and Federal programs are what helped my parents. Without them, I honestly don't know where they'd be today.

My hope is that you'll remember my mom and everyone like her. Their lives are depending on it.

She says: State and Federal programs are what helped my mother.

This whole attitude of let's repeal the health care bill and then get the government out of it, and letting individuals take care of themselves is the American way--no, it is not. The American way is Medicare, is Medicaid, is Social Security, is private enterprise, is individualism, is helping one another, is a spirit of community in our communities. It is all that, and it is not get government out of our lives. They are against Social Security and they are against Medicare. Those are not the American values I was raised with and most people I know were raised with.

Michael from Twinsburg, north of Akron, in northeast Ohio, writes:

..... my 22 year old son--a college student--was kicked off my insurance plan because of his age last year. It now costs $460 a month to insure him.

In January, he will be added back to my policy and it will cost nothing. There is no additional charge to add my son. This is due to the health insurance legislation.

Please [talk about] these good things. Most people do not know this and other good things.

Keep in mind, as I read these, this kind of benefit that goes to Michael's son. If the people in this body and in the other body--the people in the House of Representatives who actually voted to repeal the health care bill--if they have their way--and these are mostly people who they themselves are getting taxpayer-financed health insurance--they want to deny to Michael and his son, they want to deny those kinds of benefits we have voted for, while they, at the same time, are getting taxpayer-financed health insurance. I guess one word would be hypocritical, another

would be callous, another would be cold. I do not understand that way of thinking from some of my colleagues.

Steve from Groveport, in Franklin County, Columbus, the center of the State, writes:

I believe the new health care law is one of the greatest things ever done for the middle class. .....

I am so tired of hearing that [many in] this country [are] against it. Every poll I've seen shows it's split ..... down the middle. The other side ..... has got to be heard!

Steve wrote this a couple weeks ago. I think what we have seen has changed, as people learn more about these benefits. For instance, come January 1, every senior in America can go to the doctor and get, without copays and deductibles, a physical or can get a mammography test or can get screened for osteoporosis or can get colorectal screening.

Seniors also, in the so-called doughnut hole, where they continue to pay a premium but do not get a benefit--under the Bush-constructed health care bill, there is this huge hole that costs people a lot of money--because of the health care bill, because it is law, because the Senator from Oregon and I and others voted for it and the President signed it, those seniors now will see their drug costs during that period cut entirely in half, not taxpayer-subsidized cut in half but the drug companies giving up half of what they were paid.

This is from Donald in Hardin County, northwest of Columbus:

I know firsthand that the lack of necessary medical and dental services for children and students of all ages has created a serious impediment to the learning process. Families with access to a regular source of medical care are more likely to keep the entire family healthy and create a better learning environment within the home.

The health care reforms you helped pass are vital to the nation's economic recovery and a crucial ingredient for great public schools. ..... Moreover, passage of this reform was a moral imperative. .....

Donald, in addition to what he writes about young people--there is an effort in the Ohio legislature where I believe 30 Republican legislators have legislation to cancel or eliminate universal all-day kindergarten--as if cutting back on children of that age, when children's brains are developing, and they are growing and maturing, especially at those crucial ages of 3, 4, 5, 6 years old--to pull the rug out from under them makes absolutely no sense.

The last letter I will read is from Rachael, who lives in Cincinnati, in southwest Ohio:

I simply wanted to thank you for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. It is ..... very important ..... to me.

Your support for health care reform is greatly appreciated. Health insurance for my pre-existing condition will become one less thing I need to worry about. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I can now concentrate solely on finding a job to replace the one I lost in January. .....

Again, I hear people say--I have heard this for years. President Bush said it a few times, others have said it: Everybody in this country gets health care. If something is wrong, you go to the hospital, you go to the emergency room.

Well, the emergency room does not take care of you if you have chronic asthma, the emergency room does not take care of you if you have cancer. The emergency room will take care of you if you go in with a heart attack, but the emergency room does not take care of you if you need preventive care to keep you out of the hospital, to make you less likely to have that heart attack.

I read these letters about health insurance. I don't want to debate health insurance legislation anymore. I don't think we need to talk about this. We have passed the law. We have made things better. We have given people who have insurance better insurance now because of these consumer protections. People without insurance now will get assistance. People who have insurance and were about to get thrown off can keep it now.

We need to focus on the real problems in this country that we haven't addressed well enough, one of which is job creation. I am hopeful my colleagues will back off this whole idea of let's keep debating health insurance and let's keep relitigating this and let's keep rediscussing it and let's try to repeal it. Instead, we can fix some things, as the President said last night, make some minor changes in it. But let's go back to what we need to do: create jobs in this country and help manufacturing.

My State is the third largest manufacturing State in the country. We need to do a lot to make sure that as we innovate, as we do the best innovation in the world and do the best research and development, that those jobs stay in the United States and don't get outsourced. That is our mission, to make sure these jobs are created here.

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