Now Reading
Giffords will vote for health insurance reform bill
local

From the archive: This story is more than 10 years old.

Health care reform

Giffords will vote for health insurance reform bill

Bill would send Senate plan to president's desk

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will vote for the health insurance reform bill, the congresswoman announced Saturday.

"I have decided to vote for health insurance reform because it fundamentally is the right thing to do," Giffords said in a news release. "By ending abusive insurance company practices and offering immediate tax credits to small businesses and individuals who cannot afford to purchase coverage, we will be taking an historic step toward transforming our broken health insurance system."

Giffords voted for the Affordable Health Care for American Act in November, as did Rep. Raul Grijalva.

This vote, scheduled for Sunday, will be to approve the Senate's version of health care reform, sending the bill to President Obama for his signature.

House Democrats are expected to then vote on a budget reconciliation measure that would include modifications to the reform plan. That plan would then be sent to the Senate, which is expected to take up the measure within days.

Explaining her decision, Giffords said, "The benefits of this legislation will be felt immediately. Children with a pre-existing condition cannot be denied coverage, small businesses will be provided a tax credit to purchase health insurance for employees, seniors will be given a rebate if they are impacted by the donut hole and children can stay on their parents’ insurance plan until they reach 26 years of age."

"It is a tragic twist of fate that the United States Congress is moving to extend coverage to 95 percent of our citizens just three days after the Arizona Legislature and Governor Brewer agreed to strip more than 350,000 citizens – 45,000 of whom are children – of health insurance," said Giffords.

Giffords included statements of support from Southern Arizonans in her release.

"“We need to move toward a health care system, not the sick care system that we have today. This legislation moves us closer to that," said Dr. Richard Carmona, U.S. surgeon general under President George W. Bush.

Others supporting reform, according to Giffords, include John Rivers of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association; Larry Aldrich, CEO of University Physicians Healthcare; Dr. Ronald Fischler, president of the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; attorney Larry Hecker; and Sierra Vista Mayor Bob Strain.

What's your take?

Do you agree with Giffords and Grijalva? Should the House pass the Senate health insurance reform bill? Does the bill go to far? Or not far enough? Do you support a single-payer system - which the health care bill doesn't include?

Text of Giffords' statement

I have decided to vote for health insurance reform because it fundamentally is the right thing to do.

My decision comes after a year of debate, listening to tens of thousands of Southern Arizonans and carefully examining the legislation. These reforms will make health care more affordable and accessible for the majority of my constituents ranging from children to seniors.

By ending abusive insurance company practices and offering immediate tax credits to small businesses and individuals who cannot afford to purchase coverage, we will be taking an historic step toward transforming our broken health insurance system.

The benefits of this legislation will be felt immediately. Children with a pre-existing condition cannot be denied coverage, small businesses will be provided a tax credit to purchase health insurance for employees, seniors will be given a rebate if they are impacted by the donut hole and children can stay on their parents’ insurance plan until they reach 26 years of age.

This bill also is good for the backbone of our economy – small businesses. Reforms will prevent them from paying bigger premiums if they have employees with higher health costs due to age or sickness.

A sliding scale will immediately be established to give tax credits to employers with fewer than 25 employees and average annual wages of less than $50,000 who offer health insurance coverage to their employees. And there will be an exemption from employer responsibility payments for employers with 50 or fewer employees.

As a member of the fiscally responsible Blue Dog coalition, I am very pleased that this legislation is fully paid for and will reduce our budget deficit by $138 billion over the next decade.

I first was elected to public office 10 years ago with a commitment that I would do everything in my power to ensure that all Americans would have access to affordable health care. That same year, the people of Arizona voted overwhelmingly for an initiative to expand health care coverage to the working poor of our state.

It is a tragic twist of fate that the United States Congress is moving to extend coverage to 95 percent of our citizens just three days after the Arizona Legislature and Governor Brewer agreed to strip more than 350,000 citizens – 45,000 of whom are children – of health insurance.

The men, women and families I represent want the system fixed – they want solutions not partisan bickering. I wholeheartedly agree.

As we approach this vote, I am acutely aware of the lobbying groups that do not support these reforms. What they cannot spin is who I am or the values that guide my decisions.

I am a native Arizonan, a former small business owner and a military spouse. I have consistently have had one of the most moderate voting records of any member of Congress. My constituents know that I would not support a radical government “takeover” of health care, the creation of “death panels,” the dismantling of private insurance, the public funding of abortions or sponsoring free health insurance for illegal immigrants.

The legislation now before us does not include any of these provisions. But the American people are being made to suffer through millions of dollars of corporate-sponsored distortions intended to scare the public and obstruct the progress of these reforms.

The legislation that will be voted on by Congress represents a strong first step to enacting meaningful health insurance reform. In the days and months following our vote, I will devote significant time and resources to ensuring that individuals, families and small businesses in my district get their questions answered and learn about the new opportunities now available to lower their costs and increase their access to quality, affordable health care.

This is an historic moment for our nation. I am proud to be a part of it.

— 30 —

Best in Internet Exploder