U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Announces Support For The Affordable Health Care For America Act
U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords today announced that she will vote for landmark legislation that for the first time would guarantee access to health care for all Americans.
"The Affordable Health Care for America Act represents a critical first step in overhauling our nation's inadequate health-insurance system," Giffords said. "While this legislation is far from perfect, it achieves the goal that the vast majority of Southern Arizonans want -- fiscally responsible reform that preserves choice, improves access and curbs ever-rising costs."
The congresswoman outlined her support of the Affordable Health Care for America Act in a guest opinion that was published Friday in the Arizona Daily Star. First among her eight primary reasons is the bill's positive impact on the economy.
"It will not add to our nation's debt and deficit," Giffords wrote. "In fact, the bill is estimated to lower the deficit by up to $100 billion over 10 years."
Giffords also wrote she was pleased that the Affordable Health Care for America Act includes tort reform, a provision called for by many of the people who attended the three town halls she held recently throughout the 8th Congressional District.
These tort reform initiatives, Giffords wrote, "offer incentives to states that implement changes to traditional medical-malpractice laws."
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Affordable Health Care for America Act in the next few days. The bill is strongly supported by President Obama and numerous organizations in Arizona and across the country.
Among the most influential supporters is AARP, the well-respected, non-partisan advocacy group that represents 40 million older Americans. AARP Chief Executive A. Barry Rand said Thursday that the bill will lower drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries and bar insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions or age.
Passage of the bill, Rand said, means that "millions of Americans will start to regain control over their lives."
Another key supporter is the American Medical Association, which praised the bill for being "consistent with our principles of pluralism, freedom of choice, freedom of physician practice and universal access.
"The time to make health system reform a reality is now," said AMA President J. James Rohack.
The long list of national supporters also includes Easter Seals, the American Cancer Society, the National Farmers' Union, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports.
Locally, supporters include Dr. Jim Dalen, a noted cardiologist and former dean of the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona.
"I admire Congresswoman Giffords' continued strong support for the Affordable Health Care for America Act," Dalen said. "This bill is not perfect -- none are -- but it is the most important step toward ensuring access to health care for all Americans since the passage of Medicare in 1965."
A similar view was expressed by Dr. William S. Nevin, a Tucson pulmonologist.
"Speaking as a physician with many years experience in managed care in Arizona, I support the efforts of the House to make much needed changes in our healthcare system," he said.
Josephine G. Kaple Boswell, a medical economist at the University of Arizona, praised the Affordable Health Care for America Act for putting citizens first.
"As a medical economist who has analyzed costs in this industry for 25 plus years, I commend the House on coming together to put the best interest of our citizens first," she said. "By increasing competition among insurers, the easily accessible insurance exchanges, coupled with the public option, will provide an opportunity and incentive for uninsured individuals and small employers currently unable to afford insurance for their employees to gain affordable access to a quality health insurance plan. And the options will not exclude them for pre-existing conditions."
Even organizations that have not taken a formal position on the on the Affordable Health Care for America Act, such as the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, recognize the critical goals it will achieve.
"Like much of the nation, our chamber does not have consensus on this bill," said Lea Marquez Peterson, the group's president and CEO. "We are concerned about the uninsured in our nation as well as potential cost increases to the small business community. During this economic downturn, small businesses are struggling to recover. We support legislation that would encourage health insurance companies to create more affordable healthcare solutions for small businesses."
Giffords has prepared for Saturday's likely vote on the Affordable Health Care for America Act by reading the bill and reviewing comments from constituents who have taken the time to contact her offices and share their opinions.
"I am fully aware that the vote I cast for the Affordable Health Care for America Act will be one of the most important votes of my tenure in the House of Representatives," Giffords said. "I am confident it is the right thing to do. I also am confident that by confronting the health insurance crisis facing our country, we are honoring the ideals that have been the foundation of our country for more than two centuries. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, Liberty is to the collective body, what health is to every individual body. Without health no pleasure can be tasted by man; without liberty, no happiness can be enjoyed by society.'"