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The House Vote on Health Care
I ask today that when the House votes on historic health care legislation and while you are reading this note, that you think of the 47 million uninsured Americans, some of whom are choosing between health and home, some of whom are choosing between health and bankruptcy, and 45,000 of whom have died in the past year due to a lack of health insurance. I ask that you remember them throughout the duration of this historic day and this next historic week in the Senate because these people, all 47 million of whom, are the reason we are fighting. They are the reason we have fought- in town halls, at rallies, at phonebanks, and at canvases- for the past 14 months.
Today, as you hopefully know, the House of Representatives of the United States will be voting twice on health insurance reform. They will vote on the Senate health insurance bill and then on a package of added benefits through reconciliation. What happens today will ripple throughout the course of history and will forever change the way Americans recieve and benefit from health insurance.
There is always a chance that things won't go as planned and in the nightmare scenario, the House can vote not to pass the health insurance reform bill or the reconciliation package. If that were to happen, over the next 10 years, 10 million more people would be without health insurance. Premiums would nearly double. Millions of small businesses would eliminate helath insurance coverage for their employees. Our personal bankruptcies would continue to be dominated by those who went into bankruptcy due to health care costs. Our nation would eventually go on to spend 1 in 3 dollars on health care.
What will most likely happen is that this bill, as well as the reconciliation package, will pass. The House needs only a simple majority, or 216 votes as of now, and most Democratic leaders agree that there is that vote in the House. If we pass health insurance reform currently before the House, we can cut our deficit, provide over 32 million Americans with coverage, and deny unfair and unethical insurance practices. We can make our country better.
I wanted to take some time to say how disgusted I was at the conduct of members of the Tea Party yesterday at the Capitol. It's personally and professionally embarassing to me as a supporter of the First Amendment to see ignorant people such as those people using that constitutional right. What they do degrades the integrity and well being of the political system in America. For those of you who may not know, Tea Party thugs were in Washington, D.C. yesterday to protest health care legislation being debated today in Congress. That's fine with me. They have a right to do that even if I don't agree with it. It got unnecessary and unjustifiable when black members of Congress were walking to the Capitol building and were walking inside when they were spit on... They were actually spit on. White members of the Tea Party movement yelled out "nigger" to these black Congressmen. In another situation of hate at yesterday's Tea Party rallies, Barney Frank, one of just 2 gay Congressmen in the US Congress, was heckled and jeered while trying to work. They called out to him with the term "faggot" and were sensationally crude.
They weren't using racism and homophobia against regular citizens (even though that would have been equally appalling), but against sitting members of the United States Congress. I worked hard to elect Barack Obama and when we finally closed off the campaign office, a black man came in and we all talked about how things used to be in this country. My grandfathers, one black and one Puerto Rican, told me when I was a child of the horrors and the injustices they and their communities faced as a result of racism. That was in the 1950s and 1960s. I always heard the stories of the ultra conservative and fringe religious who paraded around the nation condemning, harassing, torturing, and killing homosexuals, but I heard about the stuff with the impression that that deep veined homophobia was settled 30 and 40 years ago.
I never thought that I, a man living in the second decade of the 21st century, would have the chance to hear the same rhetoric the Ku Klux Klan and other fringe conservatives used decades ago. I have the common sense to know that I have many differing opinions compared to the Tea Party movement and their associates in the Republican Party, but I was naive in believing that we could get over hateful divisions such as race personal preference.
It's been said that this bill isn't a good bill for the times we live in, but I argue against that. We've been fighting for health care for 100 years. Teddy Roosevelt first proposed the idea of reforming this nation;s health insurance system and most presidents since have tried to reform it. All have only gotten so far or have failed. We have a chance to go the full way; to get the whole loaf and win this debate on health insurance reform. I've supported this President and this Congress not because it is the most politically expedient thing to do, because it isn't, but because it is the most ethical and moral thing to do.
I've been a community organizer since about August 2008. In that time, I've had the pleasure of familiarizing myself with people of all different walks of life. Many of the people I've gotten to know and work with are uninsured. I'm fighting for them. My dad has to fight for the right to have Medicare and other quality services and I fight for him. I fight for those with cancer and other diseases whose diseases have been determined a pre-existing condition and have been kicked out of health insurance coverage. I've made great connections with other community organizers in other states and I'm fighting for them too.
This bill is not a perfect bill. Americans who are mad at this bill have every right to be. But let's step back and think about what good this bill has. It covers 70% of this nation's 47 million uninsured Americans. 32 million Americans will have health insurance because of this bill. It bans unfair practices by insurance corporations such as denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions and unfair premium charges based on race, gender, or other difference. It allows students to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until they're 26, a crucial benefit in this competitive, often crushing job market. It provides tax breaks for those companies that provide health insurance to their employees and incentives for employers to cover employees. It closes the Medicare doughnut hole and provides senior citizens with a check to help cover the difference. It also provides senior citizens with discounts on prescriptions that they otherwise would have had to go without.
For those such as I who are concerned about this bill's financial impact, I would offer the fact that it's fiscally responsible. It cuts $130 billion from our national deficit in the first 10 years and $1.2 trillion in the decade after that. If we follow the laws and mandates that this bill would establish, our national deficit would be reduced by $1.2 trillion over 20 years.
I support this bill because I want my voice to be added to the chorus of those that supported equality for all people in 2010. I want people to know that we tried and succeeded against all odds in bringing quality health care to those who were to poor or unable to recieve health care before. I want tonight's vote in the House and the next week in the Senate to be regarded in history as one of the most socially progressive times in modern American history.