Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–October 29, 2009. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leaders, Committee Chairs, Members of Congress and Americans who are struggling under the current health care system held a rally on the West Front of the Capitol this morning to unveil H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. Below are the Speaker’s opening remarks.
“Good morning. It is with great pride and with great humility that we come before you to follow in the footsteps of those who gave our country Social Security and then Medicare, and now universal, quality, affordable health care for all Americans. [Applause.]
“We are brought to this historic moment for our nation and our families because of the work of our three great chairmen of the committees in the House — Chairman Charlie Rangel of Ways and Means — thank you Mr. Rangel — Chairman Henry Waxman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. I think that George Miller has a hearing — Chairman George Miller has a hearing — as do some of our other chairs and other Members are in hearings because the work of Congress does not stop just because we have an important message to give to you.
“I am very grateful for the cross-section of Members that we have — generationally, geographically, philosophically — in every way and from all the committees of jurisdiction that worked on this legislation. And also Members of the Caucus who participated over and over again under the leadership of our Chairman John Larson and our Vice-Chair Xavier Becerra.
“So here we are. For nearly a century — it’s really over a century — leaders of all political parties, starting over a century ago with President Theodore Roosevelt, have called and fought for health care and health insurance reform. Today we are about to deliver on the promise of making affordable, quality health care available for all Americans [Applause] — laying the foundation for a brighter future for generations to come.
“The Affordable Health Care for America Act is founded on key principles of American success: opportunity, choice, competition, and innovation. We have listened to the American people, we are putting forth a bill that reflects our best values and addresses our greatest challenges. And we are putting it online for all Americans to see.
“Here’s what our health insurance reform legislation will mean to American families, workers, and the economy. [To heckler:] Thank you, insurance companies of America. [Laughter and applause.]
“This is why this legislation is important: affordability for our middle-class that lower costs for every patient, reins in premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, limits out of pocket costs, and lifts the cap on what insurance companies cover each year. Affordability for the middle-class and security for our seniors. By strengthening Medicare, it secures the financial stability and solvency of Medicare for years to come, provides seniors with better benefits and guaranteed access to their doctors. And in this legislation, we will immediately begin to close the donut hole.
“Affordability for the middle-class, security for our seniors, and responsibility to our children. It reduces the deficit, meets President Obama’s call to keep the cost under $900 billion over 10 years, and it insures 36 million more Americans. [Applause.]
“That said, the bill is fiscally sound. It will not add one dime to the deficit as it expands coverage, implements key insurance reforms, and promotes prevention and wellness across the health system. The bill will expand coverage, including a public option to boost choice and competition in the health insurance reform. [Applause.]
“It covers 96 percent of all Americans and it puts affordable coverage in reach for millions of uninsured and underinsured families — lowering health care costs for all of us.
“One other very important feature is that it ends discrimination for pre-existing medical conditions. [Applause.] It opens doors to quality medical care to those who were shut out of the system for far too long. And because of the work of our Members and our meetings across the country, we know that prevention and wellness are important part of this legislation and it puts a major new emphasis on preventive care, expands access to screenings and other treatments to keep Americans healthy, and promotes workplace wellness.
“The drive for health care reform is moving forward. The Affordable Health Care Act will ensure, again, affordability for the middle-class, security for our seniors, and responsibility to our children.
“As we continue to move through the legislative process, it is critical to remember what this means to the American people. Today we will hear stories that serve as our inspiration. We will listen to people whose hopes are our motives for action. Our President has said: ‘Our progress will be measured by the success of America’s families in making progress for themselves.’ And so, these stories are a place that need our attention, will have our action, and we look forward to hearing them.
“We are very proud of the work of everyone in our Caucus and all the staff has been extraordinary, the public’s input has been absolutely necessary. But a key player from the start, working with our three chairman, coordinating that effort so that we would arrive at something historic, something that changes the way business is done in Washington D.C. by having these three committees work together and come together with a bill to make significant change for the better for the American people — it simply would not have been possible without the extraordinary leadership of our great Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.”
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