Thursday, May 11, 2006

"There is no more pressing need than improving health care for our children."

Earlier this week, I posted a press release from Senator Kerry's office regarding S. 1955, the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act.

Today, Senator Kerry spoke on the Senate floor regarding the same legislation.

He appeared in a most fetching blue (Nantucket Isle and Whale?) tie and that striped shirt that photographs so beautifully, but really looks even better on the C-SPAN 2 live feed.

Not that you asked.

A full transcript of all 40 or so minutes of REALLY GOOD fashion (oh, and super important rhetoric!) is available at The Democratic Daily. My favorite bits are pasted here:

We need to chart real progress against America’s health care crisis.

We need to finally pass a bill on stem cell research and to fully fund all research initiatives at the National Institutes of Health.

We need to take up real legislation to get at the heart of racial and ethnic health disparities.

We need to make it legal to import affordable prescription drugs from Canada.

We need to put medical decisions back in the hands of doctors, nurses, and patients -not insurance company bureaucrats.

We need to address our nursing shortage by fully funding all programs under the Nurse Reinvestment Act we fought so hard to enact.

We need mental health parity.

We need to address our growing childhood obesity epidemic.

We need to reauthorize the State Child Health Insurance Program.

And we need to give families and small businesses access to the same private health insurance that members of Congress give themselves. It’s time we stood up and made it clear that every family’s health care is just as important as a politician’s in Washington....

Typically, the great thing about our democracy is that if we have a better idea, we are theoretically allowed to offer that alternative on the Senate floor and engage in a debate on the merits of each approach. That’s what is so fundamentally frustrating about this week’s discussion – that differing approaches are not allowed to see the light of day....

There are a multitude of other ideas on how we can go about providing access to more affordable health care for small businesses – ideas that will provide them coverage without harming everyone else. Ideas that will help small businesses maintain their current coverage – because I hear all the time from small business owners who are doing the right thing and providing coverage but are so crunched on price they fear having to drop their policies altogether....

In my time as Ranking Member on the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Senator Snowe and I have worked hard to find a compromise that would meet the needs of small businesses. We have held hearings on this issue, and have heard from countless small business owners on how this problem can be fixed....

In 2004, I presented America with a plan that would provide every American with the same health insurance enjoyed by members of Congress. Since that time, Senators Richard Durbin and Blanche Lincoln have taken that idea and turned it into a bill that creates the Small Employers Health Benefits Program. I am a proud cosponsor. Under S.2510, small businesses could join a national pool and take advantage of the same federal administrative functions and bargaining power that is enjoyed by eight million Federal employees across the nation. Most importantly, S.2510 protects every state mandate currently on the books....

Americans know we need to do better. They know there is no more pressing need than improving health care for our children. That is why nearly 25 national organizations representing over 20 million Americans have endorsed my Kids First plan to do just that.When I first I sent an email telling supporters about KidsFirst, within days over 20,000 parents phoned in recordings of why the KidsFirst health plan is important to their families. I want to read a few of them for you:
Jennifer from Central Islip, N.Y. called in and said, “I have a child who is on medication…that costs me $250 or more a month. I have children who can’t go to the dentist. You know, it’s the worst feeling in the world, as a mother, to know that in order to afford health care; you’re not going to be able to afford the home you live in.” Jordan from Reading, PA called in and said, “Nalani…my three-year old…was born with cataracts…Eventually chances are she will be blind. Unfortunately, times are really hard in my house and we don’t have health insurance and I can’t afford to give her the surgery that will fix the problem that she has. I just can’t imagine growing up knowing that there was a way that you could have been helped. But because nobody thought you were important enough and because your parents didn’t have enough money for health insurance…you went blind.”

With calls like this, you must wonder how it is that Congress continues to turn a blind eye.

If you haven't yet figured out why we love John Kerry, you are almost certainly a lost cause! look at the remarks in full, or start paying some attention to what he does on the Senate floor, and think about the fact that every time he speaks, you can tell EXACTLY what kind of person he is.

How many people can you say that about, while meaning it in a good way?


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