I was proud to cast my vote in favor of health insurance reform last week and joined President Obama at the White House as the bill was signed into law.
Watch my floor speech in support of the bill:
What do our votes in favor of health care reform mean?
1) Our votes mean that 45,000 Americans won’t lose their lives each year because they are too poor to have health insurance or because their illnesses are deemed too expensive to treat. (Source: Harvard Medical School study, September 2009)
2) Our votes mean that 32 million more Americans will have access to health care coverage, including 18,000 people in New York's 8th district who currently do not have health insurance.
3) Our votes mean that the deficit will be reduced by $143 billion over the next ten years and by more than $1 trillion over the second decade (Source: Congressional Budget Office, March 2010).
4) Our votes mean that having an expensive illness will no longer force millions of Americans into bankruptcy. Prior to passage of the bill, 55 % of all personal bankruptcies were caused by medical expenses despite the fact that 70 percent of those who filed for bankruptcy had health insurance. (Source: Dr. Steffie J. Woolhandler, report to Society of General and Internal Medicine, 2003)
5) Our votes mean real reforms of the insurance industry – the bill prohibits annual and lifetime limits, eliminates rescissions for individuals that become ill while insured, bans coverage denials for pre-existing conditions, and reduces the cost of preventive care.
6) Our votes mean that up to 26,200 small businesses in my district alone can qualify for tax credits of up to 50% of the costs of providing health insurance to their employees.
7) Our votes mean that 99,000 Medicare beneficiaries in the 8th Congressional district will get free preventive and wellness care.
8) Our votes mean that the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund will be extended from 2017 to 2026.
9) Our votes mean that we will phase out and then close the Part D prescription drug "donut hole" that affects 7,100 Medicare recipients in the 8th district each year.
10) Our votes mean that all young adults--53,000 in the 8th district alone--can choose to remain on their parents’ policies until they turn 26.
(Source for 2, 5-10: House Committee on Energy and Commerce, March 2010)
And our vote means that we have taken a giant leap forward in our quest to ensure that all Americans have access to health care that they can afford. The bill that became law is certainly not perfect, but it is progress.
It is because of this that I was proud to join President Obama at the White House signing ceremony to witness history as health care reform finally became law.