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Eshoo, Speier on House passage of health care bill

The Peninsula’s two representatives in the House, Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier, issued statements following House’s passage of Saturday of a health care reform bill.

These are Eshoo’s prepared remarks on the House floor before the vote:

“Madame Speaker, I come to the floor today to cast one of the most important votes of my congressional career — a vote in support of H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act.

We are on the threshold of history that has been almost a century in the making.

The promise of America as a land of equality and opportunity that embraces and cares for all of its citizens is but an empty promise without the guarantee of health care and the freedom from financial devastation resulting from illness.

For so many of us, this long battle has had a singular, courageous champion who has fought like a lion for the sick, the elderly, the left behind and the left out. Our great achievement today will also be our greatest memorial to our friend, mentor and inspiration, Senator Edward Kennedy.

Like Senator Kennedy, many of us wondered — as the decades marched by — whether our efforts for comprehensive healthcare reform would ever be successful.

His unwavering commitment to decent health care for all Americans has paved the way for the bill before us today. It is on the shoulders of this giant that we stand and I pledge my vote as a tribute to the late senator.

At the heart of this legislation is one simple, indisputable idea: Everyone deserves health insurance they can afford.

Our system is broken. In a nation where health is a daily value and where health care is the finest in the world, I hear daily from constituents who cannot afford to take care of themselves or their families, who are driven out of the system by skyrocketing premiums, who live under the threat of a shuttered business or a bankrupted household, or who simply have to roll the dice and hope they will get better — or not too much worse.

Perhaps most tragically, our current system turns its back on those most in need — those with a pre-existing condition. Health insurance is meaningless if it’s only available to the healthy.

H.R. 3926 will cover 96 percent of all Americans.

It prohibits discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.

It eliminates lifetime caps — immediately.

It includes a nonprofit public insurance option designed to increase competition and lower prices.

It provides affordability credits to lower-income Americans to help them pay for coverage.

It modernizes and strengthens Medicare, ensuring the program’s continued solvency and eliminating the prescription ‘donut-hole.’

And, very importantly, it is budget neutral.

When I return to my constituents in California, I’ll be proud to tell them that with this bill:

– Employer-based health coverage will improve for 461,000 men, women and children who live in my district

– 84,000 households in my district will receive affordability credits to help them pay for coverage they otherwise couldn’t afford

– 9,500 of the seniors in my district will no longer fall victim to the prescription drug ‘donut-hole’

– 17,100 small businesses in my district will be able to obtain affordable health care coverage

– And that 15,400 people will qualify for tax credits that will help reduce their health insurance costs.

I’m also proud that I joined with Senator Kennedy to author an amendment to H.R. 3962, to create an FDA pathway for the approval of biosimilar drugs.

Biotechnology is a complex and emerging field that can harness the power to cure cancer, AIDS, and diabetes, and prevent the onset of deadly and debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and arthritis.

My amendment will save the government $6 billion over the next ten years while continuing to foster innovation and new advancements.

After President Obama signs this bill, millions of Americans who today have no health insurance will have it. Patients who are now denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition will no longer be shut out of the system. Millions more seniors will be able to afford their medications, and the average American family will pay less for their health coverage.

Most importantly, we will be keeping our promise to the American people that they will have affordable health insurance which they cannot lose or have taken away from them if they become ill.

I look forward to passing this landmark piece of legislation and seeing it signed into law by the president.”

Speier’s office issued the following statement following the vote:

“Today, the House of Representatives stood up to the fear-mongering and misinformation and passed a historic health care reform bill that has been sixty years in the making. This issue is a big part of why my constituents sent me to Washington and I am proud to have been able to cast a vote to address our nation’s health care disparities and expand access for all Americans.

This is not a decision that was made in haste. No issue has been studied, scrutinized and debated more than health care reform. Like every time in our nation’s history when sweeping changes are proposed — whether it be Social Security, Medicare, civil rights, women’s suffrage or the creation of the Veterans Administration — emotions have run high in this debate and there has been no shortage of opinions on every side.

This bill was the result of compromises between many different points of view and was subject to the most exhaustive and transparent review process of any bill in our nation’s history. Literally hundreds of hours of bipartisan committee meetings were devoted to it and the final text was posted online more than three days prior to a vote being taken.

I commend Speaker Pelosi and everyone involved in the drafting of this legislation and look forward, in the weeks and months ahead, to making sure that the bill we eventually send to the president truly makes quality, affordable health care available to all Americans and eliminates unfair insurance company practices like denying coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and dropping customers when they fall ill.”

Posted on Monday, November 9th, 2009
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Health care, Jackie Speier, San Mateo County | No Comments »

Speier, Eshoo, Yee remarks on death of Sen. Ted Kennedy

Statement from Rep. Jackie Speier’s office:

“The passing of Senator Kennedy is a loss for his family, our nation and the political process itself. Born to a family of power and privilege, Senator Kennedy never stopped working for the least of society. He wore his passion on his sleeve and never cared about the politically expedient route or whom he might upset if the cause he was championing was what was best for Americans. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, in particular my colleague Congressman Patrick Kennedy. I’ll say an extra prayer tonight for the future health of decorum and cooperation at every level of the political process. While no one was more true to his progressive roots, Ted Kennedy was able to forge coalitions and work with his opponents better than any lawmaker in our history. All of us in public life should remember what Senator Kennedy taught us: There is no weakness in working with those with whom we disagree and no virtue in refusing to listen to opposing points of view. His courage is an inspiration to me and his wisdom and leadership will be sorely missed.”

Rep. Anna Eshoo:

“The nation lost a great patriot and I lost a dear friend. Senator Kennedy inspired me to serve in public office, and his wise counsel and steadfast support has sustained me throughout my public and personal life.

“His courage through tragedy and record of legislative accomplishments is unsurpassed in modern American history. I join my constituents and people around the world in remembering him and praying for his beloved family.”

State Sen. Leland Yee:

“Like many Americans who share his principles and as someone who benefited from his efforts, I feel a deep personal sadness at the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy. We have lost one of our greatest champions for universal health care, civil rights and education. We have lost a fierce warrior and an iconic voice for immigrants, women, the disabled and working families. He was the moral standard for generations of lawmakers, and his influence went far beyond Massachusetts, the halls of Congress, and even the borders of our nation. For decades, Ted Kennedy, like his brothers, ‘saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.’ It will take all of us to carry forward the torch that Senator Kennedy so proudly and courageously held for so many years. As we continue the work, the cause, the hope and the dream, his legacy lives forever. My thoughts go out to the Kennedy family and to all Americans on our common loss.”

Posted on Thursday, August 27th, 2009
Under: Anna Eshoo, Democratic Party, Jackie Speier, Leland Yee, San Mateo County | No Comments »

High-speed rail meeting on Saturday

Rep. Anna Eshoo and state Sen. Joe Simitian will hold a town hall meeting Saturday to discuss the California High-Speed Rail project.

The meeting will take place in Menlo Park Council Chambers, 701 Laurel St., Menlo Park. The meeting is open to the public. For more information, call 650-688-6384 or 408-277-9460.

Posted on Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009
Under: Anna Eshoo, High-speed rail, Joe Simitian, Menlo Park, San Mateo County, Transportation | No Comments »

Eshoo on health care reform

So here, finally, is an account of our recent conversation with Rep. Anna Eshoo on the issue of health care reform.

We wrote on June 10 that Eshoo had been pilloried as a flunky for the health insurance industry by a writer at The Daily Kos, the prominent liberal blog.

Eshoo had been quoted as saying there aren’t enough votes in Congress for a singer-payer option, which is progressives’ great hope for establishing univeral health coverage.

(It should be noted that since we spoke with Eshoo, prospects for the inclusion of a robust public option in a health care reform bill, which seemed dire, appear to have improved.)

Eshoo — who as a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health will have a hand in shaping the House bill — was adamant when we spoke that the bill will contain a public option and that everyone will be included, meaning coverage will be universal. Critics, however, say that, unless the option is single-payer, meaning the government would set up a single fund to cover the expenses of those involved in a government plan, it is unlikely to actually achieve full coverage.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Health care, Republican Party, San Mateo County | 1 Comment »

Eshoo scolded for single-payer stance

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, is the subject of some harsh criticism from blogger “sworddance” over at the Daily Kos, the liberal political blog, for ruling out the idea of a single-payer option before the process of crafting a bill to overhaul the health care system has even begun.

Eshoo apparently feels there aren’t enough votes in Congress for the single-payer option, further evidence for disappointed progressives that hope for true universal health care at this time is all but dead.

Sworddance points out that Eshoo received roughly $725,000 in campaign contributions from the health care industry in the 2008 cycle and claims: “Rep. Anna Eshoo backs insurance companies over humans.”

We’ll give Eshoo’s office a call later this week for more on her position on the single-payer option.

Tonight at 7, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, is holding her telephone town-hall meeting on health care. To participate, call 877-229-8493 and enter the number 13867 when prompted.

Posted on Wednesday, June 10th, 2009
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, Anna Eshoo, Democratic Party, San Mateo County | 1 Comment »

Speier’s remarks on Lehman relief

Here, courtesy of the office of Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, are the prepared remarks she made this morning during a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee. Speier and Rep. Anna Eshoo were joined by San Mateo County Supervisor Rich Gordon, among others, in seeking federal relief for local jurisdictions from losses incurred during the Lehman Brothers collapse:

Chairman Frank, (Rep.) Bachus, and colleagues –

I thank you for convening this hearing today to examine the devastating impact the failure of Lehman Brothers has had on state and local governments and other publicly funded entities. Although my district has been hit particularly hard, this truly is a national problem, as you will hear from the witnesses today from California, Colorado and Florida.

There are affected communities in at least 20 states, from Alaska to Washington to Massachusetts. Some of the losses are relatively small — only $18 in Tennessee as far as we can tell — but Minnesota lost more than $56 million, Missouri lost $50 million, Oregon lost $173 million, and Arizona lost $61 million. You will hear from one of today’s witnesses that Florida, already hurt hard by natural disasters and the recession, lost more than $465 million.

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Posted on Tuesday, May 5th, 2009
Under: Aaron Kinney, Anna Eshoo, Board of Supervisors, Democratic Party, Jackie Speier, Rich Gordon, San Mateo County | No Comments »

More local stimulus reaction

Here’s a link to Saturday’s Insider column, which dealt with Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier’s reactions following Friday’s House vote on the economic stimulus package.

A couple comments from Anna Eshoo didn’t make it into the column. Responding to a question about the fact that President Obama’s efforts at bipartisanship have so far been a dismal failure*, Eshoo said she doesn’t think he’ll stop trying to reach across the aisle:

“The Barack Obama I know is very genuine about reaching out to everyone,” she said. “I think it’s in his DNA. But once having done that, and soliciting viewpoints, I believe he’s a man of action.”

On the subject of how Obama appeared to have let the debate on the stimulus get away from him in the weeks leading up to the vote, during which Republicans dominated the conversation on cable news programs, Eshoo said the Obama administration simply “had a bad week” and may have been thrown off its game a bit when Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination as health and human services secretary.

“It’s a brand-new White House,” she said, referring to the fact that Obama and his advisers are getting accustomed to their new positions. “They’re still putting it together.”

Mouse trap

Speier had an Op-Ed in the Feb. 14 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle on the subject of the salt marsh harvest mouse, which became the source of much confusion after a GOP staffer made a false claim to the effect that efforts to protect the mouse would get millions in stimulus money.

Check out Speier’s Web site for that and a lot more information on the stimulus.

*In two ways. First, the general perception in the media that Obama, despite his overtures to the GOP, has somehow not been bipartisan enough. Second, the fact that Republicans have greeted Obama’s advances with hostility.

Posted on Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
Under: Aaron Kinney, Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Jackie Speier, Republican Party, San Mateo County | No Comments »

Front-row seats to history

Unlike Warren Slocum, who was eaten up and spit out on Tuesday by the Purple Tunnel of Doom, Anna Eshoo had seats for President Barack Obama’s inauguration that were just fine, thank you very much. (Slocum’s experience was the subject of Saturday’s print edition of The Insider.)

The congresswoman was seated up on the rostrum, right along the aisle by the door from which Obama and everyone else emerged from the Capitol. We asked her Friday for her impressions from that day.

“For me, I was overwhelmed by standing so close to history,” Eshoo said.

She said the “excitement was palpable,” whether you were up on rostrum, watching on television or standing among the millions of people gathered on the Mall. She was also struck by the absolute silence that seemed to prevail during Obama’s speech.

She said she was impressed by the speech itself, as was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“I think it was a very important speech,” she said. “The Speaker told all of us the following day that everyone should have a copy of the speech and read it and reread it.”

On Thursday, Eshoo and her colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee spent more than 12 hours writing up its portion of the $825 billion stimulus package, writing out the language for provisions having to do with health care, energy and telecommunications.

She said she’s confident that, despite Republican opposition to the bill, there “will be bipartisan support for it when the vote is finally taken.” She said numerous Republican amendments were incorporated into the bill and pointed to the $275 million in tax cuts included in the package.

Posted on Monday, January 26th, 2009
Under: Aaron Kinney, Anna Eshoo, Democratic Party, Elections Office, San Mateo County, Warren Slocum | No Comments »

Eshoo looks ahead to Obama administration

Rep. Anna Eshoo plans to be right in the middle of an ambitious Democratic agenda when President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January.

Eshoo anticipates that, besides shoring up the faltering economy, Obama’s priorities are likely to include a health care plan, a “safe and honorable” withdrawal from Iraq, energy security and climate change.

Those last two items fall under the auspices of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which Eshoo joined in 1995.

“We will certainly have our hands full,” she said, “and I look forward to it.”

Eshoo said Obama’s victory on Election Day is still sinking in. She’s been struck, talking to young people, including her children and nieces and nephews, by how hopeful and enthusiastic they are about Obama and what he means for the future of the country.

The downer of the election for Eshoo, who is close friends with San Mateo County Supervisor Rich Gordon, was the success of Proposition 8. Gordon, who paid a visit to Eshoo’s home on Election Night, married his partner over the summer.

Eshoo said she was “deeply disappointed” by the outcome. She said she received several robocalls in favor of Prop. 8 before Election Day that were filled with “hysteria and misinformation.”

But Eshoo said that, while older voters may have been swayed by the “Yes on 8″ campaign, she’s optimistic that younger generations of Californians will eventually compel the legalization of same-sex marriage.

“I think down the road, as more and more younger voters come to voting age, that this, too, will change, because ‘No on 8′ was not the least bit menacing to young people,” she said.

Posted on Wednesday, November 12th, 2008
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Menlo Park, Political Campaigns, Rich Gordon, San Mateo County | No Comments »

Eshoo on Ayers

One of the big questions in advance of tonight’s third and final presidential debate is whether John McCain will bring up William Ayers, the former member of the radical Weather Underground with whom Barack Obama has had intermittent contact during his political career.

McCain and running mate Sarah Palin have made a major issue of Ayers recently on the campaign trail, but McCain didn’t bring up the subject during the second debate, despite the urging of many Republicans.

Afterward, Obama and running mate Joe Biden subtly and then not-so-subtly taunted McCain for lacking the gumption to bring up the association to Obama’s face. McCain practically boiled with rage when Charles Gibson of ABC News repeated what Obama had said.

Now that McCain’s been provoked, will he talk about Ayers? Perhaps moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS, whose June interview with Wes Clark has made him a member of Talking Points Memo’s “Tire Swing” club, will bring it up on his own.

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Posted on Wednesday, October 15th, 2008
Under: 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Joe Biden, John McCain, Political Campaigns, Republican Party | No Comments »