Health care reform is a veritable financial mine field, with everyone involved in the debate expressing concerns about the costs and effects of reform on the federal deficit. This presents a major obstacle for lawmakers who want to overhaul the system this year, as Republicans and many fiscally conservative Democrats have blasted various reform proposals.
While debate continues over various health care reform proposals, there can be no debate that reform is needed. The status quo on health care is simply not an option. The cost of health care has been rising year after year, posing a growing threat to families and small businesses across our nation.
President Barack Obama has been clear about the urgency of enacting health insurance reform this year. I support his efforts and believe that every American those with insurance and those currently without it will be far better off after we have enacted his proposed reforms. Those of us who support real reform understand that the cost of inaction will be devastating for America.
Earlier this month, the president outlined a clear vision for health care reform a plan that will put families ahead of corporate profits, reduce skyrocketing health care costs and provide a strong pathway for more Americans to access meaningful and affordable care. With Congress back in session and back to work on health care reform, we must continue to build on the presidents vision and capitalize on this profound opportunity to fix a broken system and make life better for millions of Americans.
Only the most grizzled survivors of the early health care wars remember the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988, in which a dictatorial Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee conceived and passed a reform that was promptly repealed after a crowd of Chicago senior citizens pounded his car in protest. Something like that is happening again, and I suspect that its because Democrats are again so utterly out of touch.
When we discuss paying for health care, the facts speak for themselves. Every American is already paying a steep price as a result of Americas broken health care system. Regardless of whether you are insured, you are paying for government-sponsored health care enjoyed by 44 percent of all Americans.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama predicated a $900 billion government expansion of health care on a promise to eliminate waste and abuse in Medicare. [W]eve estimated that most of this plan can be paid for by finding savings within the existing health care system a system that is currently full of waste and abuse, Obama said in his televised address to Congress.
As we seek to find a uniquely American solution to health care reform that ensures affordable, meaningful coverage for all Americans, contains rising health care costs and improves health outcomes, we must reward systemwide innovations that work to achieve these goals. There are important initiatives in the health care reform bill under consideration in Congress that will better enable Medicare payments to reward quality and better outcomes and improve care for millions of Americans.
In 2008, fewer than 300 people attended my annual 10 town hall meetings. This year, 4,980 people attended. I heard a diversity of opinions and ideas on many issues. All citizens were given the opportunity to express their concerns. No one was shouted down; all were treated with respect.
One of the most important developments in the health care debate during the Congressional recess was the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) on Aug. 25. Kennedy first called for national health insurance for all Americans during a speech in 1969, and he fought for that goal for the rest of his life. Here are some excerpts from speeches Kennedy gave through the years on health care.