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Senate Proceeding on Dec 23rd, 2009 :: 2:54:35 to 3:15:30
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John Rockefeller

2:54:20 to 2:54:40( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: floor. mr. rockefeller: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. i rise today to join with my colleagues, in fact, to stand very proudly with my colleagues in support of the senate passage

John Rockefeller

2:54:35 to 3:15:30( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: John Rockefeller

John Rockefeller

2:54:41 to 2:55:03( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: of groundbreaking, comprehensive health care reform, something that i've wanted to say for decades it has taken not just the better part of a year. really, this is something which has gone back a full generation. the story of health care reform over the last 50 years has been one of change.

John Rockefeller

2:55:04 to 2:55:25( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: some quite meaningful. the children's health insurance program, for example. but none truly comprehensive in the way have their health care. and it's a history of big ideas left unrealized, for lack of political will, for lack of time time, whateve

John Rockefeller

2:55:26 to 2:55:46( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: of leaders and lawmakers and the medical profession at large all trying boldly yet all failing badly. failing fundamentally to take away the fear of so many, the sheer terror of living and

John Rockefeller

2:55:47 to 2:56:07( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: getting sick in america today. the terror of becoming sick in a country that holds itself out as a beacon of hope, a beacon of fairness yet denies men, women and children access to t doctors and nurses and the tests and medicines that we know wil

John Rockefeller

2:56:08 to 2:56:31( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: prevent illness or will make them well. a country that allows people, especially low-income people, not only low-income people, however, to suffer, or watch a beloved family member suffer alone and

John Rockefeller

2:56:32 to 2:56:52( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: care system. all at great cost to our national economy and our national productivity and our national sense of self-esteem. but even more importantly, to our national soul, to our moral compass, to our conscience.

John Rockefeller

2:56:53 to 2:57:14( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: now, in the final days of 2009, we have a profound opportunity to deliver on years and years of unmet promises and to begin a new decade by building a strong, new foundation for the american people, for all of them.

John Rockefeller

2:57:15 to 2:57:36( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: to wit: a more secure and reliable health care system that works for virtually all americans, where those who really are uninsured finally have someplace to go for health care. where those with insurance know that the coverage they count on and pay for will be there when

John Rockefeller

2:57:37 to 2:57:58( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: they need it. they'll know that. and where a profit-driven health insurance industry cannot play mercilessly with people's lives or steal their hope so that the health insurance company can have just a very prosperous future.

John Rockefeller

2:57:59 to 2:58:19( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: a very gloomy chapter in our nation's business history. each of us brings to this moment shared stories about the tragic and trying personal experiences of our friends a back home. we're all motivated by this. we're all moved by this. i know that we virginia struggles with the -- west

John Rockefeller

2:58:20 to 2:58:42( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: virginia's struggles with the health care system are not unique in america but they are unique to me because i represent them, and they are what drive notice work so hard -- drive me to work so hard to me things better. that never changes. so i talk about the board family family.

John Rockefeller

2:58:43 to 2:59:05( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: the boards are two dedicated schoolteachers with health insurance through their employer employer, whose son samuel had leukemia and well beyond the onerous annual insurance limits imposed upon

John Rockefeller

2:59:06 to 2:59:26( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: him without his knowledge and, therefore, his health insurance stopped produng any care for him at all. at eight years to know? samuel's parents were desperate and they feared for the worst. when he hit his million-dollar cap on annual insurance, my

John Rockefeller

2:59:27 to 2:59:49( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: office helped his parents to fi some more resources, but those ran out too so the boards were left with two gut-wrenching suggestions. consider getting a divorce so

John Rockefeller

2:59:50 to 3:00:12( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: that samuel would qualify medicaid. or stop taking their other two children and giving them health care so that they could spend the money that they had been spending in part on samuel, take it all away from the other two children to help with samuel as best they could. people are desperate. they

John Rockefeller

3:00:13 to 3:00:33( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: the choices are all cruel. so, it's right, i mean, you get a divorce our choose one child's health care needs over another. that's not what parents want to be like. those are the choices our nation offered to these caring, hard-working parents with a sick child.

John Rockefeller

3:00:34 to 3:00:55( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: how can that be? how can we allow that to be? the answer is, of course, that we cannot. they did everything in their power, but this fall samuel passed away. there are no words.

John Rockefeller

3:00:56 to 3:01:16( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: it breaks my heart to think of what his parents went through. not only the pain of watching their son fight a terrible disease, but also the uncertainty paying for his treatment as best as they could, and then have the coverage that they counted on and

John Rockefeller

3:01:17 to 3:01:38( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: suddenly cease to exist. so, i say to my colleagues, when do we say collectively that enough is enough? when do we finally step in and try to solve such an enormous set of problems? so much is at stake. so many people's needs and

John Rockefeller

3:01:39 to 3:01:59( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: expectations are so high, and so are mine and so are yours, i would say to the presiding officer. i know all too well that reform is not about shying away from the tough issues or the tough decisions. reform is not about reaching perfect agreements on a perfect

John Rockefeller

3:02:00 to 3:02:20( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: piece of legislation. reform is making things better for people as much as you can for as long as you can with as much money as you can possibly collect to pay for it. there are real and serious

John Rockefeller

3:02:21 to 3:02:42( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: differences of opinion among us, among our esteemed colleagues in the house of representatives as well. the senate, the house, there are differences. within the senate, one side of the are differences. within the democratic party, there are differences. so we have struggled to find solutions that will make a

John Rockefeller

3:02:43 to 3:03:03( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: difference that we can afford. and w compromise. and now, madam mrs. president, now we vote in a few short hours. an extraordinary moment in history, nothing like it that i've ever seen.

John Rockefeller

3:03:04 to 3:03:25( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: we vote, i believe, to improve access to affordable and meaningful coverage, to control runaway costs -- have to do that so the medicare trust fund doesn't run out -- and to rein in the health insurance rapacious practices.

John Rockefeller

3:03:26 to 3:03:49( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: i don't like them, and they don't like taking care of us. and they don't. aim disappointed that this legislation does not include a strong public option like the one i first introduced to keep private companies honest? am i disappoint it had does not include a sensible medicare buy-in provisions that should be

John Rockefeller

3:03:50 to 3:04:10( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: a right for millions of americans? of course i am. does that mean that i turn my back and walk away from all of this because i didn't get everything that i wanted? of course not. i'm a public official. i represent people. i represent their interests.

John Rockefeller

3:04:11 to 3:04:33( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: even as they maybe in the majority oppose what they're doing here because they know not yet entirely what is in this bill. but when they do, they feel feel differently. am i disappointed that we're unable to expand medicaid even more for our most vulnerable americans?

John Rockefeller

3:04:34 to 3:04:56( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: i live in a state that in the average hospital, 85% of all patients are either medicaid or medicare. and as my colleagues finance committee heard me say often, 50% of all babies born in west virginia are born under medicaid.

John Rockefeller

3:04:57 to 3:05:17( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: it's the way it is there, the people i represent. so, yes, of course i'm disappointed that we don't have more. but i still believe those are among the best and right solutions in this bill for our health care system. they are the best that we can do at this particular time, and it is a great deal that we are doing.

John Rockefeller

3:05:18 to 3:05:39( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: and it is an unavoidable fact that this bill does not do everything that i had hoped for. but again, that would not justify turning my back on what the bill does achievement why is it that we always seek out the negative and avoid the positive? because the negative is easier

John Rockefeller

3:05:40 to 3:06:01( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: to talk about, easier to criticize than to do, than to collect people together under an umbrella. the ultimate question cannot be what the bill does not do. it cannot end there because in so many ways what this bill does do is make good on the powerful promise of meaningful reform

John Rockefeller

3:06:02 to 3:06:24( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: that millions of people have dreamt for, have prayed for, have fought for for so long. passing health care reform will mean 31 million previously uninsured americans will now get health care coverage. excuse me?

John Rockefeller

3:06:25 to 3:06:47( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: 31 milon extraordinary. it's in the bill. passing health reform will extend medicaid so that the health care that they need. passing health care reform will close almost the doughnut hole that hurts 3.4 enrolled in the medicare

John Rockefeller

3:06:48 to 3:07:08( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: prescription drug program. 3.4 million seniors is a lot. so we close at least hal the doughnut hole, and then we give people a bonus for this coming year. but by closing half, we're signaling that we're going to close it all. health care is now, will be done

John Rockefeller

3:07:09 to 3:07:30( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: each year, every year to make things better. passing health care reform will mean the elimination of preexisting conditi exclusions right away for our children. and as soon as the exchanges are up and running, that will apply also to

John Rockefeller

3:07:31 to 3:07:53( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: passing health care reform will mean it is companies to impose arbitrary limits as they did annually on samuel. or lifetime benefits, like the board family faced so courageously. passing health care reform will mean insurance companies are

John Rockefeller

3:07:54 to 3:08:16( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: required to spend more of their money which comes from premiums, that we give them, on medical care. not fancy offices and executives' salaries. they will be required to achieve a medical loss ratio of 85% to 90%. we shall see. they will have to prove it.

John Rockefeller

3:08:17 to 3:08:37( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: we already hav we know where to go to get the numbers. nobody's done it. so they can py in their shifty darkness and deprive people of things, take things away and people don't know where to go to complain, and they just get referred somewhere else. this will be the very first time, madam president, that they are held accountable.

John Rockefeller

3:08:38 to 3:08:58( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: and they will be held accountable. they will be held accountable by the law, by congressional oversight, by a ferocity of attention on what health insurance has d many people, and how now they're going to behalf in a very different manner.

John Rockefeller

3:08:59 to 3:09:19( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: whether they like it or whether they don't. passing health care reform will mean family coverage must khrup khrup -- must include dependent children up to the age of 26. that's exciting. it's exciting because young people don't tend to get health insurance because they think

John Rockefeller

3:09:20 to 3:09:41( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: nothing will ever happen to them. it actually doesn't work out like that, and when they get hurt somebody else has to pay. they should have their own health insurance. and so they're going to get it. they will not be outside of the health care system. they will be inside the health care system. passing health care reform will mean protecting the children's'

John Rockefeller

3:09:42 to 3:10:04( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: health insurance program or chip, whichohn chafee and i wrote back in the mid-1990's, and ted kennedy and orrin hatch first established through the "help" committee in 1997. in a show of bipartisanship,

John Rockefeller

3:10:05 to 3:10:26( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: which frankly, i am nostalgic for these days and which will cover more than 14 million children by the year 2013. today chip covers 7 million, but it's run out of its ten years so it has to be reauthorized.

John Rockefeller

3:10:27 to 3:10:47( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: th we add on two more years and the program will keep going on and on, and children will have health insurance forever. passing health care reform will mean guaranteed prevention and wellness benefits for seniors so that they can get the regular checkups that are so important. it's a big tkaoefplt somebody

John Rockefeller

3:10:48 to 3:11:08( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: told me once -- it's a big deal. somebody told me once that there are about 9 million american seniors who in west virginia, it might be on the tops of hills. but they are basically alone, by themselves. they are aged. they have problems. does anybody check in on them?

John Rockefeller

3:11:09 to 3:11:29( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: does anybody call them? do they have a telephone? have you eaten your fd today? do you have food? are you okay? did you fall down? did you break your hip? is there somebody to check? we have the to do a lot better than that, madam president, and through this bill we will. and passing health care reform will mean that we finally begin

John Rockefeller

3:11:30 to 3:11:51( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: to get politics and lobbyists out of the business of deciding medicare payments. that's very important for me, because we can create new hope, perhaps our only hope, for kpaoepg medicare stable and solvent for the long term -- for keeping medicare stable and solvent for the long term.

John Rockefeller

3:11:52 to 3:12:14( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: and the list goes on real, mningful, life-changing, and in some cases life-saeufrg new laws thatill become policy. not since the creation of medicare and medicaid nearly 45 years ago has this body or the other body attempted to make a commitment as fundamental to our

John Rockefeller

3:12:15 to 3:12:37( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: ture in health care as we are doing here. fortunately, this commitment won't this legislation. we won have to wait another 15 to 20 years to take up the cause of reform because the intensity of the experience, the passion of the experience, the depth of

John Rockefeller

3:12:38 to 3:12:58( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: the feeling in discussing the experience as we've talked become and forth with each other, this now becomes an annu commitment. we will be doing health care every single year until we get it exactly right. we have not gotten here by

John Rockefeller

3:12:59 to 3:13:20( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: accident, madam president, or chance. and we will not get all the way across the finish line without more hard work and hopefully goodwill. to those on the left who are disappointed in what this bill does not do and in some cases are even -- those focus are even calling for its demise, i

John Rockefeller

3:13:21 to 3:13:42( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: implore you to reconsider, to be a part of this solution even as we keep working on others, which i promise you i will do. and i think you know that i mean what i say when i say it. to those on the right, who in all these years somehow have not seen fit to accept any of the various options and ideas that

John Rockefeller

3:13:43 to 3:14:03( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: are put on tables for comprehensive reform, i ask you to seek the facts, find the truth, follow t facts, follow the truth. there are legitimate disagreements between us about how best to solve the problems plaguing our health care system

John Rockefeller

3:14:04 to 3:14:24( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: and hurting our people, but the status quo is unacceptable. claims that we are rushing this process or have operated in secret are absurd. claims that we willurt seniors close hospitals, take away people's choices are

John Rockefeller

3:14:25 to 3:14:45( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: and disingenuous. our work in this institution affects people's lives every single day in all the work we do, for good or for in public life there's nothing neutral. you either do something that helps or you do something that hurts. and we have a solemn responsibility to help our

John Rockefeller

3:14:46 to 3:15:07( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: people in their hour of need, and that's the reason we are here, madam president. it's the oy reason we are here. to achieve meaningful reform not just in health care, but in all of their needs. as somebody who's been involved in this debate from the very beginning and fought for strong

John Rockefeller

3:15:08 to 3:15:30( Edit History Discussion )

John Rockefeller: committee, i know how far we have come to get here. and i, for one, am not going to allow this moment and its great promise to end in failure. the progress here will be real and the greatly improved quality of life for millions of

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