- Congressman Tim Bishop
(NY-1) issued the following statement regarding the vote on health care reform:
"Long Islanders are not known for holding back their opinions, and I have had blunt conversations with literally thousands of constituents about health care. I have listened to deep, passionate feelings on both sides and I respect those opinions. I have heard from thousands of my constituents and from Americans across the country who are for or against the bill. Despite much disagreement about reform, however, there is broad recognition that the status quo either isn't working or isn't sustainable.
"The health care bill is not a perfect piece of legislation nor has it been crafted through a perfect process. As someone wiser than me once put it, the last perfect piece of legislation was handed down from a mountaintop on two stone tablets.
"When you peel back all the special interests, all the lobbying, all the fear, and examine the facts, it boils down to two simple questions,(1) "Does this legislation improve upon a status quo that is failing millions of Americans and will soon be unsustainable for millions more?" I believe the answer is yes. And, (2) "Whose side am I on - the side of the working families in my district like the one I grew up in, or the insurance companies?" I choose the families.
"This legislation will level the playing field between working families and insurance companies, save lives by insuring 30 million more Americans and keep Medicare solvent by finally cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse. I am pleased that the reconciliation process corrected several deal-breakers for me in the Senate bill, notably the side deals worked out for states such as Nebraska and a provision related to Medicaid
funding that would have cost New York several billion dollars. Another important factor was the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's analysis that estimates this bill will reduce the long term debt by over $1.3 trillion.
"This legislation takes several important steps to lower costs and make coverage more affordable. It includes tort reform, holds insurance companies accountable for keeping down premiums, prevents denials of care and coverage for pre-existing conditions, and will create a health care insurance marketplace that will give millions of Americans the kinds of options enjoyed today by all federal employees, including Members of Congress.
"There are a number of benefits that will begin immediately:
• Reduces the prescription drug 'donut hole' by $250 and provides a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs, while eventually eliminating the donut hole altogether.
• Provides free preventative services and immunizations for Medicare beneficiaries.
• Helps those who are currently uninsured because of a pre-existing condition enter the temporary high-risk pool.
• Helps small businesses that provide coverage to their employees take advantage of a tax credit of up to 35 percent of premiums.
• Creates a $10 billon fund to finance a temporary reinsurance program to help offset the costs of expensive health claims for employers that provide health benefits for retirees age 55-64.
• Prohibits health insurance companies from placing lifetime
caps on coverage.
• Extends coverage to young people, allowing them to remain on their parents' insurance policy until their 26th birthday.
• Provides new investment in training programs to increase the number of primary care doctors, nurses, and public health professionals.
"I will cast my vote to put Long Islanders back in charge of their health care and expand options for families and small businesses in my district. Over the next few months, I look forward to working with my constituents to help make this legislation work for you. If you have any questions about these benefits or any other aspect of health care reform, please don't hesitate to contact my office to see how we can help."