U.S. House Passes Historic Health Care Reform Legislation
Statement by California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski
“The vise-like grip the insurance companies have over America’s health care system was loosened with last night’s historic vote for health care reform in the House of Representatives. This morning, millions of uninsured Californians have fresh hope that they’ll soon receive the quality health care they deserve. The future also got brighter for small businesses and families strangled by skyrocketing health care costs. The bill passed in the House is far from perfect, but it’s a massive step forward in the ongoing fight to reform our nation’s health care system.
“The far-reaching effects of last night’s vote will be felt immediately in California. Nowhere in America has the health care crisis hit families harder than it has in our state. One in four Californians under 65 lack health insurance and millions more are underinsured. Rising health care costs are battering California families and businesses already struggling with the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression.
“Last night’s vote was a victory for the single mom who worries she may not be able to afford coverage for her kids. It was a victory for the responsible small business owners who want to provide coverage for their employees but can’t afford to do so. It was a victory for seniors who can’t pay for their prescription drugs. It was a victory for those with chronic medical conditions who have been denied coverage by heartless insurers.
“California’s working families have organized for years for this important win. In the closing days before last night’s vote, the insurance industry unleashed an all-out assault to peel off Democrats in conservative districts in California. But the big insurance companies’ tens of millions of dollars and army of lobbyists in DC were no match for the relentless grassroots action of working families. In places like Fresno, Stockton, Bakersfield and Orange County, union members rallied, staged sit-ins and organized other actions to counter the insurance giants. Across the state, union families made thousands of calls to members of Congress in support of reform. As a result of these grassroots actions, every member of California’s Democratic delegation held strong, casting votes for reform. Special thanks to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and all members of the California Democratic delegation for standing up to the insurance industry by voting for reform. Thanks also to our Senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, for their ongoing support and leadership.
“While yesterday was a momentous step in the right direction, the work doesn’t end here. California’s working families will continue to fight to improve health care reform. We need a public health care option to reduce costs and provide greater choice to families. We need to build on this victory to ensure that every single Californian and American is able to get quality, affordable health care. We’re much closer to that goal this morning than we’ve ever been. Now we have to fight even harder to finish the job.”