The House of Representatives passed an historic health care overhaul last night, concluding a debate that engulfed Washington, DC for more than a year. Here’s how various Pennsylvania lawmakers and organizations reacted to the vote:
Senator Arlen Specter: “Tonight we are one important step closer to achieving meaningful health insurance reform which will bring down the costs of health care for American families and small businesses. I commend my colleagues in the House for their efforts and I pledge to work for the bill’s swift passage in the Senate so we can put an end to the insurance industry’s abusive practices and cover millions of individuals now not insured.”
Congressman Joe Sestak: “The health care reform we passed today will put an end to insurance industry abuses, extend lifesaving care to millions, strengthen Medicare, and cut the national deficit.
“Health care is the most personal of any public policy. I know it is for me. I decided to run for Congress, after my 4-year-old daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer, with the conviction that all Americans should have access to the lifesaving medical care I was able to provide my family through my U.S. military health care. Today, we’ve taken a major step toward making that a reality.
“Nothing is more intimate or important than our health and the care we receive from our doctors. This reform will cut out the insurance bureaucrats and put life-and-death decisions back where they belong: in the hands of families and doctors. No longer will insurance companies be able to turn record profits by denying care to those who need it most, cutting your coverage the moment you get sick, or hiking your premiums year after year.
“If we had followed the Republican plan of inaction, in 30 years health care costs would have swallowed up a third our economy, driven small companies out of business, and bankrupted untold numbers of American families. By taking on one of the biggest challenges facing our nation, we’re going to cut more than $130 billion from the deficit this decade, and another $1.2 trillion the next. And no longer will you have to pay for the uninsured out of your own pocket. This is a first, major step in tackling the deficit and creating a healthy country and a healthy economy.”
Former Congressman Pat Toomey: “The Democrats are declaring today’s vote historic, and they are right,” Mr. Toomey said. “For the first time in our history, one political party has used every trick in the book to force a brand new government entitlement program though Congress despite bipartisan opposition. The extreme politics of one-party rule has succeeded in passing a bill that will raise the cost of health care for many Americans, impose billions of dollars in new tax increases, and give government unprecedented power over people’s health care decisions. Today is not a cause for a celebration but a cause for concern about the state of our economy, our health care, and our political system.”
PA GOP Chair Rob Gleason: “Today’s vote will go down as a sad day in American history as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues rammed through their government-run health care bill,” Gleason said. “We have witnessed the passage of an awful piece of legislation that will raise taxes, kill jobs and drive a government-sized wedge between patients and their doctors.
“This bill does not address the health care needs of Americans. Rather than creating an environment where Democrats and Republicans could have an open and vigorous discussion about real solutions to improve our current health care system, Democratic Party leaders closed off debate and pushed through this bad piece of legislation as they hurried to meet their latest self-imposed deadline.
“We look forward to the opportunity to hold Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey as well as the entire Pennsylvania Democratic Congressional Delegation, Congressmen Joe Sestak, Chris Carney, Paul Kanjorski, Kathy Dahlkemper, Patrick Murphy, Tim Holden, Jason Altmire, Allyson Schwartz, Mike Doyle, Chaka Fattah and Bob Brady, accountable for choosing President Obama and their Democratic Party bosses over the needs and concerns of their constituents.
“While many Democrats will see today’s vote as the end of this debate, Republicans see this as just the beginning of a long conversation we are going to continue having with voters all the way to Election Day. I will not let a day go by without reminding voters about this horrible bill and the Democratic Congressmen who supported it!”