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Senate Proceeding on Jul 16th, 2009 :: 10:34:20 to 11:02:40
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James Webb

10:34:16 to 10:34:40( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: committee for all of his hard work on the bill that's in front of us and so important for the troops, i just want to thank him for his leadership in such a strong way on behalf of men and women who are serving us every single day and all the need to be able to be supported along with their families.

James Webb

10:34:20 to 11:02:40( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: James Webb

James Webb

10:34:41 to 10:35:01( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: so this is a very important bill, madam president, and i'm hopeful we're going to be able to move through this very quickly. i did want to take a moment, moment though tonight to talk about health care, not about the specifics of the bill that we have been working on now for

James Webb

10:35:02 to 10:35:23( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: about a year. we've had forums and and drafts and proposals and working sessions for about a year to commend senator baucus for the incredible amount of time he has put in as well as his staff, and he and senator grassley

James Webb

10:35:24 to 10:35:45( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: working well together there have been tremend amounts of effort that have gone into and we'll speak more as the process moves along about the specifics of the health care legislation, but tonight i want to take just a moment to talk about why it's so important to

James Webb

10:35:46 to 10:36:06( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: do it. you know, if the system worked well now for everyone in the countr if everyone could and afford health insurance, we wouldn't be having this discussion, we wldn't have had this debate, this wouldn't be something that would be a priority for the president of

James Webb

10:36:07 to 10:36:28( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: the united states. but the reality is that the current system doesn't work very everyone, even if you're part of the majority that has health insurance, you are pbably seeing your copays go up, your premiums go up, you may be worried about whether you will lose your insurance if you your job or your spouse loses his or her job.

James Webb

10:36:29 to 10:36:49( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: you may be in a situation where you can't find insurance because you have a preexisting condition that the insurance companies won't cover there are many, many reasons why people today, even though they have some kind of insurance, are incredibly worried about the

James Webb

10:36:50 to 10:37:11( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: future, about what happens when they get sick, or what happens when the gets and then for those who don't have any health insurance, of course it's an even more challenging story and we know that there are millions of americans -- 47 million and counting.

James Webb

10:37:12 to 10:37:32( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: in my home state alone, over 1 million people in michigan who have no insur and what happens to them when they get sick? or when the kids get sick? so this is a time has come to decide that health care is a right, not a privilege, in the greatest country in the world.

James Webb

10:37:33 to 10:37:55( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: yo know, madam president, we've been working for years. it's been 90 years, ever since president roosevelt wanted to have a health care system all americans would be able to use as part of the social security program. we've been trying do this, trying to get it right. at that time, 90 years ago, there wasn't the votes to do that.

James Webb

10:37:56 to 10:38:17( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: since then, harry truman wanted to have health care reform. it -- president johns.president johnson wanted to have a system that every american would be able to benefit from. that didn't get done, but i am very, very proud that a first major step was taken with

James Webb

10:38:18 to 10:38:38( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: president johnson and a democratic majority. and some republican colleagues joing with them. and i hope we're going to that kind of bipartisan effort now. but we ended up with something called medicare. now, if seniors or people with disabilities could have been

James Webb

10:38:39 to 10:39:01( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: able to get health insurance that they could find and afford at the time, medicare would not have passed in 1965. it passed, along with medicaid, for low-income seniors and families because people couldn't find insurance, they couldn't afford it. that's why it passed.

James Webb

10:39:02 to 10:39:24( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: we are now in the s situation. since that time in 1965, there have been a number of different efforts, a very importan effort, one that there was bipartisan support to do here on children's health insurance that was a very important initiative to put in place buttill not

James Webb

10:39:25 to 10:39:45( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: system in america where everyone would be able to afford to buy insurance, to be able to get health care for themselves and their families. and so here we are today, and it's time to finish the job that was started years ago to finally

James Webb

10:39:46 to 10:40:09( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: say, okay, we understand health insurance isn't like other kinds of insurance. you can choose, madam president, not to buy a car. if you don't have to have car insurance. you can choose not to buy a house and not have homeowners insurance. you can't choose not to be a

James Webb

10:40:10 to 10:40:31( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: human being and to get sick. so it's different. and so the question for all us is not whether or not people will ever need to use the health care system or whether or not they ever, in fact, will get health care. it's when and how and how expensive it will be. one of the major reasons today

James Webb

10:40:32 to 10:40:52( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: that the health care system is so expensive and, in fact, that we spend twice as much as any other country on health care -- and when you think about that, how crazy is that? we spend twice as much as any other country on health care and have over 47 million people with no health insurance. now, any economist will kind of look at that and go that is a

James Webb

10:40:53 to 10:41:14( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: crazy thing. but we have a system the people that are uninsured or underinsured or have their premiums and copaysoing up too much and can't their insurance, go to the emergency room. moms and dads, you know, going to the emergency room with the children.

James Webb

10:41:15 to 10:41:35( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: i've had the opportunity to visit nursing -- or visit emergency rooms both when i have been in an emergency but also just there with emergency room physicians, with the nurses to watch what happens. and any time you have seen that, you know that there are lots of

James Webb

10:41:36 to 10:41:56( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: moms and dads that have no other choice for their children than to take them to the emergency room. we also have more and more people who, because the dental problems, the inability to get basic dental coverage, end up in

James Webb

10:41:57 to 10:42:18( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: hospital. when that happens, served. that's the job of the hospitals and i believe that we rembered be focusing on emergency -- that we should be focusing on emergency rooms and emergency room physicians and giving them -- giving them extra support because of what they but the reality is, they are served.

James Webb

10:42:19 to 10:42:40( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: and then w pays for it? well, everybody who has insurance pays for it because the hospital then takes the uncompensated care and rolls it over on to the costs of those with insurance. that's the system today. people get care. they walk into the emergency room sicker than they otherwise

James Webb

10:42:41 to 10:43:03( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: would be late friday night to have something they weren't going to have to go to the doctor because they couldn't afford it and they end up in the emergency room on the weekend. anthe reality is, we institutionalized the system that is the most expensive way possible to provide health care

James Webb

10:43:04 to 10:43:24( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: in this country. so that is a huge issue. we know that if everybody if everybody's is part of the system and you spread all the different ages and healt conditions disparities and all the

James Webb

10:43:25 to 10:43:45( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: different pieces and variables in the system and you have everybody in some way covered, everybody in, actually go down. which is also different than other kinds of goods and services so health care is, in fact, different. but we now have a system where we are paying for this and

James Webb

10:43:46 to 10:44:07( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: providing for this in the most expensive way possible. so there are many reasons, many reasons, why we need to have a sense of urgency health care and what we are doing here, and we need to remind ourselves, madam president, daily that this doesn't go away just because we're not paying attention.

James Webb

10:44:08 to 10:44:28( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: when we're not the prices go up. when we're not paying attention, people get sick. when we're not paying attention, businesses continue to either not be able to cover their employees or drop coverage because of what's happening on the cost. the only question we have is when are we going to act.

James Webb

10:44:29 to 10:44:50( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: that's the question for us. not whether or not we're going to pay for it, but it's how we're going to pay for it and are we gng to create a system that over time actuallyowers costs by doing the right thing and having a system incentivizes the right things, or are we going to continue to do what we do now: costs going

James Webb

10:44:51 to 10:45:13( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: up, exploding availability of care going down? that's the system discuss all these issues -- and it's very complicated. all of us involved in this which it were not.

James Webb

10:45:14 to 10:45:36( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: it's an incredibly complicated issue. but as we have been working our way thr we've heard from lots of people in the discussion, those that operate as ausiness, who make a profit off this current health care system, those who are involved in it in capacities. but, madam president, i don't

James Webb

10:45:37 to 10:45:57( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: think we hear enough from those who are affected, from people in michigan, people in north carolina, people around the untry who are trying to take care of their families, trying to be healthy, trying to get the care they need when they're sick, operating under this system. and so because of that, i set up

James Webb

10:45:58 to 10:46:20( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: on am people's lobby. we've got lots of lobbyists here, and i've invited people from michigan to be a part of my health care people's lobbynd share their stories about happening to them. i want to share a few of those

James Webb

10:46:21 to 10:46:42( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: comments with my colleagues this evening, from thousands of people who are now a part of my health care peoples lobby. tricia kirsten from bloom field hills, michigan says she doesn't understand why some senators don't seem to understand the -- quote -- "unbelievable, daunting

James Webb

10:46:43 to 10:47:05( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: and debilitating effect the cost of health care causes their voters." she's right. we all need to be paying attention to that. the cost of health care today, as i mentioned, is crushing our families and and small. and that has to be part of -- and it is. it is part of the

James Webb

10:47:06 to 10:47:28( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: in fact,t is at the top of the list in terms of our goals, lowering the cost. janet rodriguez of saint joseph, michigan, wrote her health care premiums for her family of are over $700 a month. because her employer pays a portion of her premium and because those premiums are going

James Webb

10:47:29 to 10:47:50( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: up and up every year, she hasn't gotten a raise madam president, this is a very common situation for workers who get their insurance through their employer, as you know. more and more people are having to trade off getting a wage increase that would help pay for

James Webb

10:47:51 to 10:48:11( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: the mortgage and the food and clothes and maybe to college and trading that off for a health care cost that is occurring and their employers having to pay more of that or their having to pay more of that. cheryl michigan, is about to lose her

James Webb

10:48:12 to 10:48:33( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: cobra benefits next month and has been shopping for personal insurance. within two weeks the price had already jumped $22 per month -- it jumped from $667 a month.

James Webb

10:48:34 to 10:48:57( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: so it was $22, jumped to $667 a month. that's $150 more than her house payment. more than her house payment. she says, "we are very, very frugal people. no big vacations, no expensive and we're not impoverished yet.

James Webb

10:48:58 to 10:49:20( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: but premiums like this for mediocre coverage, large deductibles, large copays can break even the most stable family. and you know that's what's happening. her story is shared by thousands and thousands of people i know across michigan. our current health care system is bankrupting too many families.

James Webb

10:49:21 to 10:49:41( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: we know that over 60% of bankruptcies are linked to medical expenses. 75% of families who file for bankruptcy actually have health insurance. and those who have insurance on average have medical expenses of over $18,000 when they file, insurance policy.

James Webb

10:49:42 to 10:50:04( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: it's even worse without insurance. sandra marzuski from waterford, michigan, wrote to me that she and her husband have been without health insurance for seven months. she writes, "you h the fear i walk around with every day."

James Webb

10:50:05 to 10:50:25( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: this is a fear faced by millions of americans, tens of millions of americans, people who have done the right thing their whole life and now find themselves struggling in this economy and facing that fear, who after they put the kids to bed at night say

James Webb

10:50:26 to 10:50:46( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: a little prayer, "please don't let the kids get sick." they stay up worryin what's going to happen if they do get sick. avoidinghat cancer screening because they don't want to hear it if it comes back positive because they don't think they cano anything about it. it's a fear that grips the heart

James Webb

10:50:47 to 10:51:08( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: of too many americans, and it's so critica that we move forward in a way that will allow us to address what is happening with american families. lee harshbarger of ypsilanti lived with that fear.

James Webb

10:51:09 to 10:51:30( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: he had no health insurance for nine years. thankfully his wife cares for him but they think what will happen if she loses her job or her employer has to cut back on insurance or drop insurance? what will happen then? it's not just families who are hurting either, madam president. we know it's our businesses, large and small. i've had so many small businesses come up to me and say

James Webb

10:51:31 to 10:51:51( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: you've got to do something. i employees, i can't even find insurance for myself at a reasonable rate, let alone a small group of people that work for me. a.j. deeds from ann arbor, michigan, used to operate a

James Webb

10:51:52 to 10:52:13( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: small business in birmingham. they have 12 employees offered them health insurance. but they soon found their competitors didn't offer these benefits, and they were left behind so they faced what many businesses and families face, which is a race to the bottom. you can't compete if you offer health insurance or a good wage,

James Webb

10:52:14 to 10:52:36( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: so you drop the health insurance and you push down the wage. by 1997, he wrote they had to stop providing health insurance because they couldn't afford it anymore and be competive with the other companies that didn't offer insurance. that same year a.j.'s first child was born,

James Webb

10:52:37 to 10:52:59( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: insurance premium shot up to over $800 a month for three people. some health insurance plan would put bureaucrats between you and your doctor. how many times have we heard that? but rig now, madam psident, we have

James Webb

10:53:00 to 10:53:21( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: and your doctor, insurance company bureaucrat. this notion that the doctor can offer whatever test or procedure that he or she feels that they should for you is just not real. it's not the real world. it's not real that an individual who has insurance can just go

James Webb

10:53:22 to 10:53:43( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: out and see a doctor, or see any doctor they want, get any procedure, any treatment that they want. they first have to look through mounds of paperwork in the insurance policy to see if it's covered. and thenhey first call doctor and make this to the insurance company to determine whether or not they will pay for it. i believe it's incredibly

James Webb

10:53:44 to 10:54:06( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: important that system- and this is what we are working to much more about doctors and patients, much more about that. and the critical part of this, and i appreciate that the industry is supportive of this, is changing the system so that someone can get

James Webb

10:54:07 to 10:54:30( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: they have preexisting conditions, that we rating to make it more affordable and do a number other insurance regulation reforms. this is but it islso true that right now your decions about health care depend? upon, have health insurance.

James Webb

10:54:31 to 10:54:51( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: and, b, what it will cover. what it will cover, what the copays are, what the premiums are. you are in a box that is dependent on whatever insurance will cover. and the worst thing is when someone pays in for years and

James Webb

10:54:52 to 10:55:12( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: believes something and it should be covered, and finds out it is not or that they are ill and is dropped. so there are a number of changes that need to take place there as well. now, i have to say that -- i

James Webb

10:55:13 to 10:55:33( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: have to put a plug in. in michigan, we have statute established blue cross-blue shield as a nonprofit to insure everyone in the state the insurer of last resort. that has worked very well for us, and i appreciate the great work that they do.

James Webb

10:55:34 to 10:55:55( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: that is not true everywhere. and i think we have some serious issues around the for-profit insurance companies that we need to take a look at as it relates to the costs that people are paying. robert baums from michigan, up

James Webb

10:55:56 to 10:56:17( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: in the upper peninsula, had to jump through hoops with his insurance company to get a medical device he needed. he was forceed to deal with in-network sellers even though he could have gotten the same device much cheaper from a different supplier. his 20% copay would have much lower if he could have gotten a device from the seller of his choice.

James Webb

10:56:18 to 10:56:38( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: he couldn't -- if he could have gone where he wanted to go, it would have been cheaper, but he wasn't given the choice by the insurance company. he had to pay what the ins company said or pay the whole thing on his own.

James Webb

10:56:39 to 10:57:01( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: bo stotcher from rochester hills is also fed up with her insurance company. she has an individual policy, which is one of the most expensive ways you can get insurance. it costs her $400 a month as an individual, which she describes as sketchy at the least, where i have to pay $2,500 up front as a deductible.

James Webb

10:57:02 to 10:57:23( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: she's limited to two doctors' visits a year. two doctors' visits. talk about coming between you and your doctor. two doctors' visits a year. and she has a copay. she needed a routine medical procedure and had to pay $700 out of her pocket. for people struggling to make

James Webb

10:57:24 to 10:57:45( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: ends meet, those kinds of costs just are not acceptable can't afford this. again, this whole process of health insurance reform is about supporting doctors and nurses to be able to do what they were

James Webb

10:57:46 to 10:58:06( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: trained and want to do and to be able to make health care available to old, small businesses and that's what this is all about. i'm very pleased that we are working on

James Webb

10:58:07 to 10:58:27( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: would give people choice, that would allow people to keep their insurance, if they wish to. and i think that many people, again, my own family we want to keep ours. well, in tk-bgz madam president, we're not in the federal system.

James Webb

10:58:28 to 10:58:50( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: we know that many people would sa they like what they have. and i say great to that. and we want to make sure, number one, that people can keep what they have. you, we want to fix it. that's what health reform is about. keep what you h it.

James Webb

10:58:51 to 10:59:12( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: let us fix what is bron so that everye has the opportunity to have the health care that they need. there are a number of ways in which we are working to do that. i mentioned earlier that everyone is covered as part of lowering the costs so

James Webb

10:59:13 to 10:59:33( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: don't have too many people using the emergency rooms inappropriately. we providers the proposal that wre all working on would focus on quality, not quantity of tests,

James Webb

10:59:34 to 10:59:55( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: would focus wellness, not sickness. so we are incentivizing those things that allow people to be healthy, support primary-care doctors as the first line of defense, and nurses as the first line of defense so that people are being

James Webb

10:59:56 to 11:00:17( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: able to get the care and the funding they need, the screenings, the prevention that they need. th important change. the long-term savings in the system come from changing the system to health care rather than sick care. and quality rather than quan

James Webb

11:00:18 to 11:00:38( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: we also know, as i said before, th incredibly important part of this, so everyone can get the insurance they need, that it's affordable and that they know they won't get dropped if they get sick. finally, i think it's very important that we have the right kind of mix of choices, that we

James Webb

11:00:39 to 11:00:59( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: have private-sector options, but there also be a public health care option that is driven, that's a benchmark on the true costs health care so there can be competition. it needs to be level and fair competition.

James Webb

11:01:00 to 11:01:20( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: but i believe we need that competition. madam president, we've got a lot of work to do in the coming weeks. it's very important work. the american people have waited long enough for u done. we know there are lots of pieces. it's complicated.

James Webb

11:01:21 to 11:01:43( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: people of goodwill are work together to com approach. buteeed to get it done because people in each of our states, my great state of michigan andll across the country, are counting on us because the system doesn't work

James Webb

11:01:44 to 11:02:04( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: now for too many people. and it's not acceptable. getting sick is not a choice. worrying about your children, your family, your moms and dads, your friends and neighbors and what will happen to them when

James Webb

11:02:05 to 11:02:27( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: they do get sick is a worry that we need to be able to address. we need to take that worry off of the american people and say th we get it. health care should be a right, not a privilege in greatest country in the world. and that's what this work that

James Webb

11:02:28 to 11:02:41( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: we are doing is all about and i very, -- i very, very sincerely hope that we are going to have a product that will be widely supported, tha we can move to the president as soon as possible. thank you, madam president, and

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