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Congressional Briefs: Black lawmakers laud health care vote

By Staff

Nov. 8, 2009, 12 a.m. - Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat and head of the Congressional Black Caucus, released the following statement yesterday after the House of Representatives approved H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act:

“Today’s historic vote is one step forward in our quest to provide health care to all Americans.

“While there is still much work to do, I applaud President Obama, Democratic Leadership and the Chairmen of the Tri-Committees for their efforts to bring us to this point.  

“I also want to thank in the Tri-Caucus, Progressives Caucus and particularly the 42 members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Together we have led the fight for a strong public option, which is included in the health care bill that the House approved today. 

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When others were pronouncing health reform dying—and the public option dead and buried—we kept on fighting! And we will keep fighting until a final health care bill is on the president’s desk that includes not only a strong public option, but provisions to achieve health equity, eliminate health disparities and to limit the rate of increase for those with private plans.

“We have and will continue to champion issues such as the need for support for patients with end stage renal disease, for children’s mental health, and dental care, workforce pipeline issues, and expansion of community health centers. 

“These provisions and others attack the many causes of health disparities, and we fought to get them in.  Under the leadership of Congresswoman Donna M. Christensen, we have also championed expansion of the Office of Minority Health because we need a comprehensive way to address minority health across agencies.

“Finally, because we know that 85 percent of Americans are in private insurance, under the leadership of Rep. Donna Edwards, we fought to have included cost containment provisions to keep premiums reasonable. We know that the American people want and deserve affordable health care.  We also know that this bill is cost effective for our country, and for American families watching their budgets.

“This was a historic vote, but we must keep up the fight until we have a final bill on the president’s desk. Health care should not just be a privilege for a few; it should and must be a basic human right in the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world.”

Cummings Proud To Vote YES On American Healthcare Reform

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Maryland Democrat and former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, cast his vote Saturday, in favor of H.R. 3962, the ‘‘Affordable Health Care for America Act’’. The bill, which passed the House of Representatives 220-215, will now move to the United States Senate for consideration.

Legislation created by the bill will improve employer-based coverage for 403,000 Marylanders, will cover 44,000 Maryland residents who lack insurance and will provide 147,000 Maryland families with “affordability credits” to help them afford insurance.

It also improves Medicare for 90,000 beneficiaries in Maryland, including beginning closure of the prescription drug “doughnut hole” for 4,700 Maryland seniors.

On the financial front, this legislation will protect 900 Maryland families from joining the estimated one million nationally who declare bankruptcy due to medical costs.

“I am incredibly proud to have voted for the future of the American people,” said Rep. Cummings. “Our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see, and this legislation is a message to those children: You will be at your best, as a nation, when your citizens are free from fear, and worry, and hardships they cannot overcome. This bill ensures that all Americans can access quality, affordable healthcare, giving them a better chance to avoid these bumps on their path to the American Dream.”

The Affordable Health Care for America Act will mean greater stability and lower costs for all Americans, including affordability for the middle class, security for our seniors and responsibility to our children. It will achieve these goals, covering 96 percent of Americans, while lowering the deficit as much as $100 billion over the first ten years of the program. 


Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, made the following statement on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on the need for health care reform:

“Madam Speaker, we are at an historic moment in our nation’s history. 

After a half a century of debate, the time has come to make health care a reality for

every single American. 

We must make health care a right, and not a privilege.  People are dying without health care. 

This week we say “no more!” 

People are losing their homes because they are without health insurance. 

This week we say “no more!”

The American people cannot wait a moment longer. 

Every day that we wait, 14,000 Americans lose their health insurance. 

We have a good bill before us.  We have resolved our differences. 

But lately, we have been stuck in the paralysis of analysis.   And it must end now. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is

 the most shocking and inhumane.” 

We must not perpetuate this injustice.

The spirit of history is upon us.  We have been called to lead.  Now is the time for Congress to do what is right.  Now is the time for action. We must pass health reform now.”


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