It was a beautiful day, but I mostly was on my couch, watching C-SPAN, and posting commentary on www.twitter.com/healthaccess. The Huffington Post condensed the full floor debate into ten minutes. Below is the video, and some of the quotes from the day, particularly from California Representatives.
* CA Rep Judy Chu talked about Eric, a young member of her staff… Getting chemo, he reached 24 and lost coverage under his parents’ plan. He then was denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions. He only had coverage because of the job with the Congresswoman, but this plan would help him, and others like him.
* CA Rep Doris Matsui described her constituents Tim’s + Elizabeth’s problem with the health system: “If it’s not working for them, it’s not working for me.”
* CA Rep Dennis Cardoza: “My wife has been a doctor for 30 yrs. She tells me every night of stories of patients who get sick, but denied coverage. My wife has to fight with insurers “to let her practice medicine the way she was trained at UC-Davis Med School.” “My brother, who owns a small business, saw his premiums are going up 75%.””I am going to vote for this bill, and I am going to vote for it proudly.. “It is desperately needed, desperately long overdue.”
* CA Rep Henry Waxman: Health reform “builds on what works today.. and it reforms what doesn’t. It fundamentally reforms the practices of insurers.”
* MI Rep John Dingell, after being introduced by Rep. Henry Waxman: “Today is a day that is going to rank with the day we passed the Civil Rights bill of 1964… and Social Security…”
* CA Rep Eshoo: I am priviledged to be part of a Congress that votes for this “life affirming” health reform, which will “perfect the union.”
* CA Rep Mary Bono Mack’s descriptions: “secret deals” “shell game” “does nothing”… She gave the impression she was opposed…
* CA Rep Lois Capps highlighted prevention: after this bill, “no more co-pays for preventative screenings.”
* GA Rep John Lewis: “The American people need health care, and they need it now.. Answer the call of history, and pass health care.”
* CA Rep Mike Thompson: “I’ve worked for quality, affordable health care for all for years, since my first campaign.” “In my district, 63,000 uninsured residents will have access to coverage”
* CA Rep Devin Nunes: Health reform brings back “ghost of communism,” and it “continues failed Soviet socialist experiment”.. we should “say no to totalitarianism.”
* Vice Chair & CA Rep Xavier Becerra: “Today is a day of history. Today we accomplish what 100 years of Congresses could not.”
* MD Rep Van Hollen: “The day after this leg is signed by President Obama, Americans will see the world is not coming to an end.”
* CA Rep Lynn Woolsey: “The whole nation needs health reform but no one needs it more than women…” “..being a woman is a pre-existing condition”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived to a standing ovation, to give a speech that journalist Marc Ambinder called “the best speech I’ve seen her give.” She started by stating that we are honoring the vow of our founding fathers, from the Declaration of Independence, for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This reform will provide healthier lives, and more liberty to pursue happiness. “This is an American proposal…” she emphasized. Citing the linkage with student aid legislation, she said that health reform and education were two issues that were ultimately about opportunity for the American people. “One word: opportunity.”
Speaker Pelosi made the link to the economy. “Imagine an economy where people can change jobs or start a business without worrying that they would lose their health coverage.” She continued, “The best action to reduce deficit, to improve economy, to create jobs.. …is to pass health reform.” She praised the health reform for emphasizing prevention, wellness, and innovation.. It “will create 4 million jobs.. will save $1.3 trillion from the deficit.”
Speaker Pelosi references her predecessor who said “all politics is local,” by stating that in fact, especially with health reform, “politics is personal.” She recounts, “I saw a grown man cry” when he couldn’t pay his medical bills…
She refers to over 350 groups support of health reform: AARP, AMA, Catholic Health Assn, United Methodist Church, Voices for American’s Children, and many others. She also pointed out that the bill includes over 200 Republican amendments, and after over a year of debate, it’s time to pass it.
Referencing the late Senator Kennedy, Pelosi calls health reform the “great unfinished business” of our society and says the reform will establish health care “is a right and not a privilege.”
And after that, the vote tally went up. Like a New Year’s Eve countdown, but utterly more rare and consequential, the bill slowly but surely had over 216 votes.