05/22/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Why I Voted for Health Insurance Reform

Yesterday I joined a majority in Congress to pass historic health insurance reform legislation, H.R. 4872, the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act. We told 32 million Americans living without insurance that their fear of getting sick without coverage will soon be a thing of the past. We fulfilled the sacred promise of health care for all Americans.

I cast my vote for the bill because we could no longer wait to stem the rising tide of the uninsured and underinsured, implement important reforms to prevent insurers from discriminating against persons with pre-existing conditions and enact important measures to rein in costs.

Now, Americans with pre-existing conditions will no longer be denied coverage. No longer will insurance be too expensive for individuals and their families to afford. And now, because of the bill's provisions to close the Medicare Part D "donut hole," senior citizens will no longer have to split their pills in half or go without needed medicines because their drugs are too costly.

In my home district, New York's 10th Congressional District, access to affordable health insurance will make a tremendous difference in the lives of men and women who have been burdened by the escalating costs of health care. When the bill is enacted, 61,000 young adults in my district will be able obtain coverage on their parents' insurance plans until they turn 26 years of age. And for the 10,400 uninsured residents in my district with pre-existing conditions like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, the bill's insurance reforms ensure that they will no longer be denied affordable coverage.

Importantly, we are doing all of this without adding one penny to the federal deficit. In fact, this bill will reduce our federal debt by $143 billion over the next ten years, and hundreds of billions more in the years thereafter.

Health insurance reform is an issue I have been committed to throughout my long congressional career. We came close to this day before, but this time, at long last, we will see this legislation signed into law.

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