Washington, DC— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delivered the following remarks this morning on the floor of the U.S. Senate about the urgency in reforming health care. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Fixing our broken health care system after decades of inaction is no small task. And with such an effort comes no shortage of strong convictions, diverse ideas, rigorous analysis and constructive criticism.
“But as the plans, proposals and policies evolve, our principles remain constant. Though we navigate a sea of choices, we know where we will land.
“First, we will bring security and stability back to health care. Second, we will not add a penny to the considerable national deficit that has ballooned over the past eight years.
“And finally, we will remain focused on seeing this fight all the way through because we are too long overdue for a change.
“Those who are fortunate enough to have health care now and who hear us debate how to make it better might wonder where you come in. You may wonder what’s in it for you.
“Well, health care reform helps everyone. It will help those who have insurance today, but don’t know if it will be there tomorrow.
“It will help those who worry that they are just one illness, or one accident or one pink slip away from losing their care.
“It will help those who are covered, but fear their children very likely won’t be able to say the same when they grow up.
“And it will help the nearly 50 million people who have none to begin with.
“The reform we are pursuing means making sure that if you lose your job, your health care won’t go with it. It means if you change jobs, you won’t have to worry about losing your coverage.
“Health care reform means lowering the costs of care and keeping them low. It means improving the quality of the care you get and keeping it high.
“Reforming health care means that if your mother had breast cancer, or you had minor surgery last year or your child gets allergies every spring, your insurance company can’t say, ‘I’m sorry, you’re too much of a risk for us to cover.’
“It means the premiums you pay every month won’t go up just because your insurance company feels like it. It means keeping costs stable so the price of staying healthy doesn’t fluctuate like a gallon of gas.
“It not only means making sure you can keep going to your family’s doctor or keep your health care plan if you like it – but also that you can afford to do so.
“No one can predict when that next accident might come, or when one might get laid off. We don’t know when we’ll get sick next, or when one of our loved ones will.
“But we can take the uncertainty and unfairness out of the current system. We can make it more stable and more secure, more reliable and more dependable.
“Second, every one of the many plans we have heard for fixing health care have something else in common. They each have maintained President Obama’s commitment that this effort will not dig us any deeper into debt than we already are.
“Any plan that passes this body will be fully paid for. When all the numbers are crunched, the number on the bottom line will be a zero. In fact, as we improve disease prevention, reduce health disparities and better coordinate medical services, we will be lowering future costs even further.
“Families will also save money in the long run because the status quo comes with a hidden health care tax. If you have health care right now, you are paying at least $1,000 more for it than you would need to if all other families had it, too. When we reform health care and you are no longer responsible for covering the uninsured, you will see those savings every paycheck.
“The only costs that worry me are the costs of inaction.
“We have already seen what happens when we do nothing. Over the past eight years, health care costs rose to record levels, and the number of Americans who can’t afford insurance did the same.
“Right now in my state of Nevada, half a million people already lack the coverage they need, or struggle with inadequate coverage. If we don’t act, many, many more Nevadans and millions more Americans will lose their health care as it gets more expensive by the day.
“For a generation, we have been working to fix this broken health care system. Throughout this year, we have explored numerous proposals in numerous bipartisan roundtables and committee hearings. This has been the number-one issue on our agenda for a long time now. And today we’re closer than ever to getting it done.”