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Kerry: "Only in Washington could people suggest this is a rush to reform health insurance"

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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 05:10 PM
Original message
Kerry: "Only in Washington could people suggest this is a rush to reform health insurance"
Edited on Tue Sep-22-09 05:11 PM by ProSense
09/22/2009

Kerry: "Only in Washington could people suggest this is a rush to reform health insurance"

WASHINGTON, DC Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), a senior member of the Finance Committee, today called for swift Senate action to achieve real health care reform for all Americans. In response to several opening statements from Committee colleagues stating todays health care markup was based on an arbitrary deadline, Kerry called health reform an opportunity American cannot afford to squander.

Only in Washington could people argue that weve rushed this process, said Kerry. This has been Americas battle for decades, and those suffering in a broken system cannot afford the political gaming of stall and delay they simply will not survive it. We are going to get this done. Ive been confident of that all along, and Im confident of it now. Were going to do it because we have to and because it is the right thing to do. And in the end, I think, we will show something about the character and the compassion of the American people.

Kerrys full statement as delivered is below:

Mr. Chairman, thank you. First of all let me join others in expressing my respect for the long and tedious investment that youve made to help get us here. This is not a process that began just a few days ago. I think fifteen months ago, you began this process with a day-long conference over at the Library of Congress and we have been working on it ever since. And the truth is that we have been working on this for years. Weve done mental health parity. Weve done childrens health. Weve done portability. In 1993 and 94, many of us on this Committee were a part of that effort to get this done. When I consider fifteen months and the effort weve put into it with the number of meetings. Only in Washington could people suggest this is a rush to reform health insurance. And for a lot of Americans whove lost their insurance, 80 million in a year at some point go without insurance. I just learned the other day of a friend of our kids, a young man in his twenties, who went to the hospital to have a diagnosis months ago, they didnt get his diagnosis back to him. When they did get it back to him he learns he has rectal cancer but his insurance has been canceled. That happens again and again and again all over this country and its got to end. And for that person this is not a rush. This is long overdue.

You know when Teddy Roosevelt ran for president as the Progressive Party candidate in 1912, he pledged a system that would protect against just what I described. He said, The hazards of sickness and it didnt happen. Franklin Roosevelt, in 1944 State of the Union Address proposed the right to adequate health care--medical care for all. It didnt happen. A decade later, Harry Truman proposed the same thing. It didnt happen. And many of us, as Ive said in 93 were here when Bill Clinton proposed the same thing and again it didnt happen. In 2004, when I ran for president, I had the audacity to propose the same thing and a funny this happened on the way to the forum: I didnt get there. But we can get it right now. President Obama and Hillary Clinton both put forward significant efforts based on all the years previous effort. And you have to put it in that context. Theres no surprise listening to our colleagues on the other side of the aisle that they are finding a reason to disagree at this point. Thats why the talks went on and on and on. This is the time to vote. This is the time to legislate. This is the time to come here--if people have a better proposal, I think there are a lot of open minds here. Well listen. Because one thing it for certain: we do need to get this right. We need to lower the costs for Americans, as the charts that Kent Conrad showed, declare with a clarity that is frightening. And we also need to deliver better quality care in America. Those two things I think are the real standard by which we have to measure this. And we are not here to just talk about or primarily talk about people who don't have insurance, were here to talk about the vast majority of Americans who do have insurance but who are increasingly finding that what they thought they had, doesn't get delivered; what they think theyve paid for, they don't get; that when they want a decision, some obscure and invisible, anonymous bureaucrats making the decision for them not them and their doctor. These are fundamentals we ought to be able to agree on. And I think it is absolutely critical that we do so now.

We have an opportunity -- this is a historic opportunity. This is a kind of moment that wont come again soon and I think it is important we are here to legislate and take these votes. The status quo as Senator Conrad has shown in those charts is just unsustainable. We cannot afford to dither and dicker and sit here and talk and not get this done in the legislative time that we have left. Everybody's got the statistics. We know we spend more than 50% more on our health care than any other country, and yet all of that spending is not making Americans healthier than the people in those other countries. We have a life expectancy in other countries is longer and infant mortality is lower in most developed countries. Thats unacceptable. Medical bills play a role in 62% of all bankruptcies in the United States. And as I mentioned, we have 87 million Americans -- one out of three Americans went without health insurance for some period between 2007 and 2008.

So we all know that if we do nothing, which we have proven pretty good at doing, things are going to get worse. The costs will be higher, premiums will be higher, and there will be more Americans who will be in extremis as a result. Now are there changes that could strengthen this proposal? I'm confident there are. And it is interesting to listen to some of our colleagues talk about Washington takeover, takeover of the banks -- We didnt take over the banks. We bailed out the banks. We loaned them money. We took a stock position. We didnt take management, we didnt kick them out. We dont run the banks. And in fact, the truth is, the banks today are repaying the taxpayers of the United States a profit. We are making money on TARP. We are making money on what we did. We made the right decision. Just as I believe we going to make the right decision with respect to health care.

Now, three quick things I mentioned, Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for the work we have done with respect to the idea that I proposed on the leveraging of an excise tax on the insurance companies in order to drive down the cost of health care on high-cost plans. I am convinced, as are most of the actuarials, that its going to drive down costs. But I do believe--you have moved, and I appreciate that. And I thank you for the effort of the last few days as we come to this markup to try to adjust it. I want to make certain, however in the next days, and I appreciate your willingness to work on it, that we will make any further adjustments necessary to preserve the cost-containing effect while making sure that the burden is appropriately shared. And I look forward to working with you on that.

Secondly, I believe we have to pay attention--and I know others will talk about this--to the question of affordability on low and moderate-income families. It is key when we finish this that we are lowering those costs in a way that makes this more affordable for them. And I strongly support the efforts to strengthen Medicaid and improve the premium tax credits to poorest families to help do that. I also believe very strongly, based on the Massachusetts effort, on which we are drawing some considerable ideas, that we have not yet done enough to provide appropriate employer responsibility. I have a feeling about that that may be different for some. But I'm confident we can work out some methodology, Mr. Chairman, by which large employers will also contribute their fair share to the effort.

And finally, I am concerned that the bill includes a new fee on medical devices that could stifle innovation and limit the technology advances that are really critical to help reduce health-care costs. Let me give you an example: medical devices have helped develop rapid detection of heart attacks, for instance, which has reduced hospital costs by 30%. New technology has helped to diagnose and treat strokes, leading to better outcomes, and savings of 800 million each year for hospitals. So we need to ensure American businesses continue to provide medical advances that can reduce costs and I don't want to see that innovation stifled.
Mr. Chairman, I just close by saying to you that in the past I have seen us actually get trapped in some of the details. And we seem to lose touch with some of the larger choices about medical care that we face. In the conversation with Ted Kennedy not long ago about healthcare, when I was running for president, trying to put together a sensible plan, he said to me, "You know, John, there are 12-15 ways to do this and Im sure that each of them probably would work. Youve got to decide where you want to land." And obviously there are some philosophical differences here. Thats appropriate to the Senate its appropriate to American politics. But it's not appropriate for those differences to interminably delay what we're going to do.

Senator Kennedy, as we know, wrote a letter to President Obama in which he said that this concerns more than material things. Its above all a moral issue. At stake are not just the details of policy but the fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country. I believe that. I think many people in the United States Senate and the Congress do believe that. So I hope, Mr. Chairman, that together--I think we're going to do this. We are going to pass health care. We are going to get this done. Ive been confident of that all along. Im confident of it now. And were going to do it because we have to and because it is the right thing to do. And in the end, I think, we will show something about the character and the compassion of the American people. And I applaud you for helping to get us here this far.





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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 05:26 PM
Response to Original message
1. Thank you, Senator Kerry..and thank
you to Senator Kennedy for writing that letter that it is indeed "a moral issuse". The corporate greedmongers are going to lose again.

Great speech by Kerry~

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iconocrastic Donating Member (627 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 08:11 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. Wasn't it supposed to be passed before the Congressional break?
Looks like they f***** up that schedule.

Now it could drag on for months.
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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 08:20 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Patience..Speed is not always of
the essence.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 07:09 PM
Response to Original message
2. This is what the real values voters want
Its above all a moral issue. At stake are not just the details of policy but the fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 07:14 PM
Response to Original message
3. The Boston Globe covered it



Senator John F. Kerry, who has picked up some of the health care mantle from the late Edward M. Kennedy, lashed out today at Republicans complaining that the issue is being rushed.

Only in Washington could people argue that weve rushed this process, Kerry said in a statement. This has been Americas battle for decades, and those suffering in a broken system cannot afford the political gaming of stall and delay they simply will not survive it. We are going to get this done. Ive been confident of that all along, and Im confident of it now. Were going to do it because we have to and because it is the right thing to do. And in the end, I think, we will show something about the character and the compassion of the American people.

As the Senate Finance Committee started deliberating and amending a proposal from Chairman Max Baucus, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the panel's senior Republican, said the mid-September deadline preempted bipartisan talks. "I find it utterly and completely appalling," he said.

Baucus unveiled his bill last weeks after months of negotiations toward a possible bipartisan deal proved fruitless.


(then they printed his whole statement)

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligen...
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blm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 08:47 PM
Response to Reply #3
7. wow....the Globe just covered it without the vindictive snark? that's progress
.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 09:19 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. My thoughts exactly - which is why though it added little to Prosense's post I added it
It is very straight coverage.
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wisteria Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 07:52 PM
Response to Original message
4. LOL, he has them tagged correctly. Repub after Repub saying they felt rushed during the hearings.
They were very prepared to fight this change,the stalls aren't going to work any longer. Now, they should be ready to accept it.
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YvonneCa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 10:31 PM
Response to Original message
9. Thank you for posting this, Prosense. I woke up...
...this morning and turned on the TV to see Kerry making this statement. I thought it was excellent. Later, when C-Span re-played the hearing, I watched the whole thing. In context, Kerry's statement is even more pertinent.

The talking points of the other side were clear, obviously repetitive, and wrong...and Senator Kerry's statement rebutted them perfectly.

How could anyone...anyone with a functioning brain and any knowledge at all of history :7 ... say this process is moving too fast???
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