Congresswoman Maxine Waters Votes for Historic Health Care Reform
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35) issued the following statement as the House of Representatives prepared tonight to vote on historic legislation to improve health care and toughen regulation of the health insurance industry.
"Our health care system is broken; no one can deny it.
Every day, millions of Americans go without needed health care because they have no insurance. Some of these people work for small businesses and other employers that do not provide insurance. Some of them lost their insurance when they lost their jobs. Some of them were denied coverage by insurance companies because of a pre-existing condition. And some of them simply could not afford the escalating premiums. Even for people with health insurance, a devastating accident or illness can be very expensive. The cost of health care is the number one reason for bankruptcies in America.
So we cannot afford inaction. Today, we have a clear choice – to start to fix the broken health care system – or to do nothing.
However, this bill is not perfect. I would like to have seen included measures such as a public health insurance option like Medicare that would compete with the private insurance plans and a single national insurance exchange where people could purchase the health plan of their choice instead of separate state-based exchanges with different standards. I believe these measures would be more effective at containing costs and creating competition for the insurance industry.
I am also concerned that this bill should not be used to limit the right of women to reproductive choice. Despite the President's Executive Order, attempting to codify existing law under the so-called Hyde Amendment, it is not clear that the Senate bill does not go beyond the Hyde amendment.
Nevertheless, I have decided to support H.R. 3590, together with the improvements included in H.R. 4872, because it will make health care more affordable and more accessible for thousands of my constituents and millions of Americans. By passing this legislation today we are taking a critically important step in the right direction.
According to an analysis by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, this health care reform bill will benefit California's 35th District in the following ways:
- Improve coverage for 281,000 residents with health insurance.
- Extend coverage to 125,500 residents who lack insurance.
- Guarantee that 21,200 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.
- Allow 58,000 young adults to obtain coverage on their parents' insurance plans.
- Give tax credits and other assistance to up to 157,000 families and 15,100 small businesses to help them afford coverage.
- Improve Medicare for 62,000 beneficiaries, including reducing the costs of prescription drugs and closing the donut hole.
- Protect 1,100 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
- Provide millions of dollars in new funding for 10 community health centers.
- Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and other health care providers by $15 million annually.
Many provisions of the bill will kick in immediately. Insurance companies will no longer be able to take away a person's insurance because the person gets sick, an unfair practice known as rescission. It will immediately prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, and eventually end discrimination against anyone with a pre-existing condition. It will immediately allow young people the ability to remain on their parents' insurance until age 26. It will immediately help seniors pay for prescription drugs and eventually eliminate the donut hole completely. And it will extend tax credits to small businesses so that they can provide health insurance to their employees.
Over the next few years, the bill will extend coverage to 32 million Americans, or 95 percent of the population, providing affordability credits for individuals who cannot afford to purchase health insurance on their own.
Improving our health care system is essential to setting us on the right path to healthier lives, renewed American innovation, and a stronger, more stable American economy. I urge my colleagues to support this bill and expand access to health care for families and small businesses throughout the United States of America."