03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Health Care Reform: Historic Legislation

Members of Congress are rarely presented with an opportunity to support the passage of truly historic legislation. Today was such a day, and H.R. 3692, Affordable Health Care for America Act, such an opportunity. Against an organized, scorched earth campaign of misinformation and fear mongering, we passed a strong bill, and an even stronger sense of unity and purpose in our fight to bring access, affordability, and high quality health care to every person in America.

As Chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am particularly encouraged by the inclusion of legislative language addressing racial and ethnic health disparities and the inclusion of the U.S. Territories in the health care exchange. I am proud of the impact we have had in making changes that will directly help the poorest and most disadvantaged communities across this nation. Finally, I thank fellow CAPAC member Rep Cao (R-LA) for his courageous bipartisanship support, in great service to his constituents.

As representative of California's 15th district, HR 3692 improves employer-based coverage for 500,000 residents, allow 16,700 small businesses to obtain affordable health care coverage and provide coverage for 28,000 uninsured residents. The bill reduces the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and health care providers by $205 million, protects the seniors in my district from the doughnut hole, and improves the quality of their Medicare coverage.

In the words of Hubert Humphrey, 'The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.' Today, we passed that test."

The Affordable Health Care for America Act passed today covers 96% of Americans and guarantees stability, lower costs, higher quality, and a greater choice of plans for all Americans.

If you have insurance, this bill:

Keeps your insurance company from denying you care or coverage -- or charging you more -- because of diabetes, heart disease or any other "pre-existing condition."

Gives you peace of mind that you won't lose coverage if you lose your job, move, or change jobs.

Prevents insurance companies from dropping you because you get "too sick."

Covers preventive care with no co-pays or deductibles.

Limits out-of-pocket expenses your insurance company can make you pay.

If you don't have insurance, this bill:

Lets you comparison shop for a quality, affordable health plan through a new health insurance exchange or marketplace.

Offers you low group rates even for individual coverage.

Helps lower your premiums with affordability credits for those who need help paying.

Prevents any insurance company from denying you coverage for heart disease, diabetes or another "pre-existing condition."

Extends coverage for young Americans, allowing them to stay on their parents' health insurance plans up to their 27th birthday if they choose.

Includes a public health insurance option to compete on a level playing field with private insurers.

For our seniors, this bill:

Strengthens Medicare, extending its solvency for years to come.
Improves access to your doctor.

Lowers Medicare drug prices by beginning to close the coverage gap or "donut hole" immediately.

Reduces inefficiencies and program costs to help Medicare remain solvent without cutting benefits.

Improves coordination and increases the quality of care for seniors with diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic conditions.