Washington, DC— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement this morning on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“The choices in this health care debate should be about which ideas contain the best solutions to fix a severely broken system.
“The choices in this health care debate should be about how best to lower costs while increasing quality of care and how best to bring security and stability back to health care.
“The choices in this health care debate should be about how to make it easier to stay healthy in America.
“But for some, the choice seems to be whether to act at all. That is a false choice. That is not a choice we have. Not acting is not an option.
“The Republican Leader in the House of Representatives said last month that ‘I think we all understand that we’ve got the best health care system in the world.’ Unlike the vast majority of America, he seems pretty content with the status quo.
“And just this week, the junior Senator from South Carolina said that we just need to ‘get out of the way and allow the market to work.’
“In other words, he says, let’s do nothing. Let’s repeat the same mistakes of the past, and dig ourselves deeper into this hole we’ve inherited.
“That is not responsible. It is not legislating. That approach does nothing to help the millions of Americans who live just one accident, one illness or one pink slip away from losing their health coverage. And that posture certainly does nothing to help the millions of Americans who have no health insurance to begin with.
“If we just get out of the way, as the Senator suggests, health care costs will get higher, and more people who have health care this year will not be able to say the same next year.
“If we let the market work its will, as the Senator suggests, less than a decade from now you will have to spend almost half of your family’s income on health care.
“If we sit this one out, as the Senator suggests, more parents will decide they can’t take their children to the doctor because it simply costs too much to pay the medical bills, and more small businesses will lay off more of their workers because it simply costs too much to give them health coverage.
“If, as the Senator suggests, we do nothing, we will keep our economy from recovering, keep businesses from growing and keep families from getting the doctor visits and medicine they need to stay healthy.
“ ‘Allowing the market to work’ is code for letting the greedy insurance companies – companies that care more about profits than people – continue to deny you coverage because you have a preexisting condition, or you are a certain age, or because you changed jobs.
“We have already seen what happens when we do nothing. Over the past eight years of inaction, the costs of health care rose to record levels, and the number of Americans who can’t afford insurance did the same.
“Right now in Nevada, more than 100,000 people already lack the coverage they need, or have inadequate coverage. We can’t afford to treat these people in emergency rooms, which is where the uninsured often go for treatment. And if we don’t act, many, many more Nevadans will lose their coverage.
“There are a lot of good ideas about how to fix health care in America at this critical time for our economy’s health and our citizens’ health. The question is not whether we should explore any of them – our job is to determine which of these paths will lead us back to recovery, prosperity and good health.”