For the past many weeks, my office has been bombarded with calls from people calling for passage of health insurance reform, and I am firmly with them. After more than a year of public debate, tonight the Budget Committee will take a major step towards final passage of legislation. This will mean the difference between life and death for millions of Americans.
This bill will not be perfect, but it's impossible to conceive of the harsh reality that would follow failure to enact health insurance reform legislation. Voting against reform would result in millions of Americans losing their coverage, premiums skyrocketing for families and small businesses, and rate hikes like the offensive 39% increase Anthem Blue Cross proposed for California.
Some think we should start from scratch or discard the bill because it lacks a public option, which was in the House bill I voted for in November. I fought for a public option and signed a series of letters to advance it, but I will proudly vote to save lives rather than kill this legislation because it lacks a single provision -- albeit an important one I have consistently advocated for over the course of the last year.
This legislation puts Americans ahead of insurance companies, gives businesses control of the care they provide their employees, and puts a stop to the insurance industry's worst practices -- like denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
I will continue to fight for better health insurance reforms over the next weeks, months and years, and I am confident that whatever we enact this Congress will not be what we have a decade from now. Improvements will be made, and I will work to make sure a public option is one of them.
For those who suggest I vote against this bill, thereby denying millions of Americans the coverage they deserve and continuing current insurance industry policies and practices, I strongly and publicly disagree. The only pledge I'm making is to protect and insure as many Americans as possible.
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