03/31/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Health Care Reform Is the First Step to Economic Recovery

Since Congress started debating health care reform last year, 884,000 families have been forced to file bankruptcy because of medical bills and over 44,000 people have died from lack of coverage all while medical costs continue to rise. Medical debt is the leading cause of bankruptcies and foreclosures in this country and health care costs account for one-sixth of our nation's economy. We will never pull out of this recession or reduce the deficit without comprehensive health care reform. So, why are there continual delays?

Wall Street, big banks, insurance companies and special interests are running wild, while Coloradans continue to suffer. Insurance companies (including their pass-throughs using the Chamber of Commerce) have spent over $180 million to defeat health care reform and in the process tried to convince the American public reform will actually harm them. The current health care bills will reduce the deficit; will significantly reduce out of pocket costs for health care expenses; and will cover people previously denied health insurance coverage.

After months of wrangling, Congress cannot get cold feet. They have lost sight of the people this impacts and the detrimental effect rising health care costs have on our economy. Without reform, Americans' spending on health care will continue to skyrocket. Health care costs will eat up fully one-third of the average family's income by 2019, equivalent to a second rent or mortgage payment every month for many families, according to a recent report from the Center for American Progress.

The costs of choosing inaction are too great, but now the insurance industry is arguing we should slow down, start over, or implement incremental change. Both the House and the Senate have passed a bill and the time for dithering is over. We have worked on this legislation for a year. Thousands of hours of public hearings, debates, and careful consideration have gone into this process. It is time to get this to the President's desk for his signature.

Change That Works has traveled across Colorado talking to real Americans about health care. We continue to hear gut-wrenching stories daily about the insured and uninsured alike. Each of us must continue to fight to pass this legislation to save the lives of millions of Americans, reduce the deficit, and fix the economy. Insurance companies and other special interests are spending large amounts of money trying to scare voters about health care reform. It is time to rein in insurance companies with common sense rules and checks on the system.

Congress needs to act in the best interest of hard-working, struggling Americans. We have fought long and hard for health care reform and we cannot let the insurance industry stand in the way of progress and derail us.

Enough talking. Enough hand wringing. It is time to act.