Laura Richardson

Affordable Health Care for America Act - Nov. 7, 2009

Laura Richardson
November 07, 2009— U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC
Congressional floor speech
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Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act of 2009, because this bill is good for seniors, good for women, good for small businesses, and good for all Americans.

I would like to thank Speaker Pelosi, House Majority Leader Hoyer, Congressman Dingell, Congressman Rangel, and Congressman Waxman for their skill and leadership in bringing this historic bill to the floor. I would also like to thank my colleagues who have worked so hard to bring about a workable solution to one of the most critical challenges in the history of our nation.

President Theodore Roosevelt proposed national health insurance in 1908 because he could not stand by and watch American families go bankrupt when their children fell ill. Forty years later in 1948, President Truman proposed it again. Under the leadership of Lyndon B. Johnson and a Democratic Congress, Medicare was enacted in 1965 which provided health care for senior citizens. Thirty years later, Congress passed the State Children' Health Insurance Plan which expanded affordable coverage to millions of poor children.

Today, this seventh day of November in the year 2009, we write another great chapter in the remarkable history of this country. Today, we extend to tens of millions of our fellow citizens the security that comes from knowing that they will have health care that is there when they need it and won't bankrupt their families. Today, we keep faith with those who came before us and those who will come after us. Today, we will pass the Affordable Health Care for Americans Act of 2009 and change America for the better.

The health care system we have now is not working for middle and working class families, not working for businesses trying to compete in a global economy, not working for taxpayers or for the uninsured. There are 54 million Americans who are uninsured who need us to reform this broken system. 1 in 5 Californians are uninsured or underinsured. These numbers are staggering and if we do nothing, they will only grow worse.

Mr. Speaker, House Republicans have offered a bill that they claim solves the broken health care system, but the reality is quite different from what their rhetoric makes it out to be. The fact is the Republican substitute leaves affordable health insurance out of reach for millions of Americans. It will allow discrimination based on gender, age, and preexisting conditions to prevail in the insurance industry. It will do nothing to protect consumers. It is not the answer.

Mr. Speaker, the Affordable Health Care for Americans Act is a better bill. It is the answer to the broken health care system. This bill provides American families with stability and peace of mind. Never again will they have to choose between their health and their livelihood. This bill provides American families with higher quality health care. It leaves important health decisions up to patients and doctors, not to insurance companies. This bill provides American families with greater choice. It creates a high-quality, robust, public health insurance option for families to choose from. Finally, this bill lowers costs for American families. It eliminates co-pays and deductibles for preventive care while putting an annual cap on out-of-pocket expenses for American families.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is the answer to the problems faced by real American families today. The Republican bill is fantasy. It is not grounded in reality. Now, we need to stop playing politics and focus on actually improving people's lives. H.R. 3962 will reform the health care system so that it provides quality, affordable coverage that cannot be taken away. This bill eliminates discrimination based on gender and pre-existing condition. It eliminates the prescription drug donut hole for seniors. It ends the era of no and begins the era of yes for millions of Americans seeking coverage.

As FDR once said, the test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have little. It is time for us to move forward. It is time for us to take this great nation in a new direction. It is time for us to look out for all Americans in their time of sickness and need. The hour is late, and the need is great. I urge my colleagues to vote ``aye'' on H.R. 3962.

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