Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva released the following statement following his vote in favor of health care reform legislation:
“My vote today in favor of the health care reform package was about the needs of the district I represent and the needs of the American people. It’s the kind of landmark achievement Congress often seeks and does not always accomplish, and I am proud to record my name alongside the many others who support it. It will save the government $1.2 trillion over the next 20 years and put an end to medical insecurity for 32 million uninsured working people who will soon be covered under this legislation. Those are milestones we should all be proud of today.
For the past twelve months, I’ve fought as hard as I know how for a better, fairer, more affordable American health care system. There’s no denying that it’s been a difficult process, and I’ve been able to keep working through it with the much-appreciated support of the many millions of Americans who believe with me that we must do better than the status quo. Ultimately, the choice before the House was simple: pass the Senate bill and the reconciliation amendments, or vote the Senate bill down and maintain that status quo. No amount of heavy lifting, negotiating or compromising could ever create anyone’s idea of a perfect bill – the first step, however momentous, was bound to be different than my concept of it. My decision, in the end, was simple. I cannot ignore those 32 million uninsured Americans, or the many others like them who receive insufficient care. I’m happy to join groups like the American Nurses Association, the National Breast Cancer Coalition, the U. S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and many others in declaring that they have suffered long enough and it’s time for a change.
Reform has always been about assisting the most vulnerable in our society. That’s why I’ve made this last year about doing what I can on their behalf. In that light, I could cast no other vote today. Our status quo is simply unsustainable. The people of this country have been crying out for Congress to act. Because we acted today, by the end of this year no insurer will be allowed to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. No company can cut off benefits because it wants a bigger profit margin. All insurers will be required to treat everyone more equally regardless of age, race and gender. Today, we commit significant support to community health centers around the country that provide medical care to the most vulnerable in society. Those are significant achievements. So is the bill’s mandate that insurance companies spend a significant majority of their revenue on providing care, not on overhead or executive bonuses. So is its extension of federal funding to all Medicaid-eligible Americans earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Viewed as a whole, this package is an important and impressive step in our long fight for a fairer, more equal America.
The vote we just cast is a beginning, not an end. It establishes once and for all that health care in this country is a basic right, not a privilege. Our system can be improved in the future, and it will be. I will make fighting for those improvements a priority as long as I am in Congress, because as much work as we’ve done over the past year, more remains before us. Major advances in our quality of life are rarely easy. They are not achieved in a single stroke. They are the result of years of persuasion, discussion and sometimes false starts. This bill is a foundation that we will look back on in five years, 10 years and 20 years and thank ourselves for laying now.”