I understand that some may be confused after reading recent media reports on health care reform. I want to set the record straight and there is no better way of doing that than by communicating directly with you.
In short, I voted for an imperfect House Bill on Health Care Reform to keep it alive so that we can improve it in the US Senate and in Conference Committee. Martha Coakley has said she would have voted to kill the House Bill, which would have killed our best chance for Health Care Reform in a generation.
On Saturday night, the House of Representatives passed its Health Care Reform bill. In many ways this is the beginning of the process, not even close to the end.
This bill was by no means perfect. One controversial provision, the Stupak Amendment, has caused widespread concern. If passed into law, this amendment could deny coverage for abortions to poor women. Consistent with my lifetime 100% rating from the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), I worked against this amendment and voted against it, as did all pro-choice Members. We lost.
After that loss, those of us who take health care reform seriously were faced with a tough decision on final passage – do we vote no and kill the health care reform effort for the next ten years or do we vote yes and move the fight to the Senate.
Every leading pro-choice voice in the House had the courage to vote to keep the hope of health care reform alive. That includes Diana DeGette, Louise Slaughter, Nita Lowey, Rosa DeLauro, Nancy Pelosi, Patrick Kennedy, and all 8 pro-choice Massachusetts Members, including me. President Obama supported our efforts.
If just two more Democrats had voted no – the vote that Martha Coakley has said she would have cast- the bill would have been dead and we lose the opportunity to move health care reform forward.
I will do all I can, along with all my pro-choice colleagues in the House and Senate, to kill the Stupak Amendment as the process moves forward. I will continue working on other issues as well. I won’t vote for a final bill that includes language that will force poor women back into the alleys of America to receive health care coverage.
I made the same commitment when the Public Option was at stake – I would not support a bill without one … and I still won’t. I am sure you know that we won that in the House.
I believe that we CAN win BOTH the Public Option and reasonable pro-choice language before this bill goes to the President’s desk. If this happens, we can also pass real Health Care Reform for America.
We have never been closer in the past 60 years to achieving universal health care.
I am NOT willing to kill this hope before we have a chance to succeed and that is why I voted to move the bill forward!
The process is just beginning. Health Care Reform is important. The legislative process is serious and we cannot allow procedural maneuvers to kill this effort. If I stood alone in this opinion, I would accept the criticism from my opponents and their supporters. But when I stand with virtually every Member who is pro-choice AND pro-health care reform, I am compelled to set the record straight.
If you consider yourself both pro-choice and pro-Health Care Reform – would you have stood alone in the House and voted to kill all hope for Health Care Reform … or … would you have stood with everyone else who agrees with your positions and vote to move the bill forward to fight another day?
Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts with you directly about issues I care so deeply about. I wish you all of the best on this Veterans Day and hope you have the opportunity to take a moment to honor all of our men and women who have served our country.