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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 »

Leftovers

Here’s eight photos from last week that didn’t make it into the paper, all taken by Times staff photographer John Green. Above and below, Foster City Mayor John Kiramis ships out for Southern California on Wednesday aboard his 50-foot power boat from Sausalito Shipyard & Marina. He’s resigning from the City Council and moving to Lancaster, in Los Angeles County, to help care for his ailing mother-in-law.

Nuffie Calbreath takes in the festivities with her dog Bella at Saturday’s Burlingame Pet Parade. Hundreds of pets and their owners turned out for the sixth-annual event.

Owners and their pets stroll down Broadway during the parade.

A cluster of grapes on the vine at Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside. The wine grape harvest has begun at Fogarty and other San Mateo County vineyards.

Elizabeth Enriques (right) picks grapes on Thursday at Thomas Fogarty.

Members of Mexico Vivo perform at the Redwood City Salsa Festival on Saturday.

Sigmund Jacobson, of San Leandro, tries some salsa at the festival.

Posted on Tuesday, September 29th, 2009
Under: Agriculture, Burlingame, Foster City, Redwood City, San Mateo County, Woodside | No Comments »

Speier lauds student loan bill

Rep. Jackie Speier released a statement today praising the House’s passage of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which would overhaul the process by which student loans are issued.

“This legislation will make it possible for more Americans to go to college, for more graduates to leave college without crippling student loan debts, and for families to better plan for their children’s future,” Speier said.

According to Speier’s office, the billl “expands access to financial aid programs, saves tax dollars by eliminating costly guarantees to private lenders, increases the amount of Pell Grants and provides real-world career training through new partnerships between universities, community colleges, businesses and job training programs.”

“President Obama challenged us in his State of the Union address to make America the leader in the number of college graduates by 2020,” Speier’s statement continued. “This bill not only does that but allows students to borrow money at a dependable rate so that they are not overburdened by debt when they graduate. On top of it all, taxpayers save billions of dollars that were previously paid to private lenders in guarantees for unpaid loans. …

“Our entire nation benefits every time someone formerly unable to attend college is given the chance. This bill expands access to higher education by lowering interest rates on subsidized, need-based federal student loans, expanding the popular Perkins loan program to every U.S. college campus and creating a shorter and simpler federal financial aid form to make applying for financial aid easier.”

Posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2009
Under: Democratic Party, Education, 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 »

Speier photos

Here are some photos of Rep. Jackie Speier’s recent meetings with constituents that didn’t make it into the paper. Above, Mario Pellegrin, of Montara, questions Speier about health care reform Sunday at a town hall meeting held outside at Farallone View Elemenatary School in Montara. (Jim Stevens/Bay Area News Group)

Speier at the Hot Harvest Nights farmers market Thursday in San Carlos. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

From left to right, Gail Sredanovic, of Menlo Park, Ruth Robertson, of Los Altos, and Jane Emery, of San Jose, all from the Raging Grannies, sing in support of health care reform at Hot Harvest Nights. (Nhat V. Meyer)

Howard Weisberg, of San Mateo, holds up his sign in support of health care reform while waiting for Speier at Hot Harvest Nights. (Nhat V. Meyer)

Sophia Dew, 9, left, talks with Speier on Wednesday at the San Mateo County Fair. (John Green/Bay Area News Group)

Speier signs an autograph book for San Francisco resident Leo Pribble at the fair. (John Green)

Posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009
Under: Democratic Party, Health care, Jackie Speier, San Carlos, San Mateo, San Mateo County | No Comments »

Health care call

Rep. Jackie Speier is holding a town hall meeting by telephone tonight on health care reform. The call will begin at 6:50 p.m. and run for about an hour. To listen in or comment, call 877-229-8493. The PIN number is 13867.

We’ll be listening in as well for Speier’s take on the health care debate and to see if she gets any wacky death panel questions or other such nonsense.

For more on Speier’s position on reform, here’s a recent statement.

Posted on Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
Under: Democratic Party, Health care, Hillsborough, Jackie Speier, San Mateo County | No Comments »

Speier applauds decision to honor Harvey Milk

A couple bits of news out of the office of Rep. Jackie Speier today. First, she released a statement in response to President Barack Obama’s decision to bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom on late San Francisco Supervisor and gay rights trailblazer Harvey Milk, who is among 16 recipients of the medal this year:

“I salute President Obama for bestowing our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, on San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, a civil rights pioneer who dedicated — and sacrificed — his life so that others might live in a world free of discrimination.

“My hope now is that, along with honoring the man, we also honor his work by making the United States of America a land of true equality and freedom. Harvey Milk will receive his real and rightful honor when our nation sheds the last vestiges of our intolerant past and recognize that all individuals are endowed with the same freedom to marry whom they wish, to seek employment judged on their qualifications and not their orientation, and to live equally with their neighbors in the pursuit of happiness and community.”

On a less serious note, Speier’s office passed along some items in The Hill, which recently profiled Speier’s communications director, Mike Larsen, who until recently was working as a comedy writer in Los Angeles, and included Speier and one of her assistants, Gina Gribow, on its list of the 50 “Most Beautiful” people on Capitol Hill.

Posted on Thursday, July 30th, 2009
Under: Democratic Party, Jackie Speier, San Mateo County | No Comments »

Good roads

Foster City is touting the fact that it received recognition for having really good roads. Best in the Bay Area, in fact. Yay.

Posted on Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Under: Foster City, 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 »

County students excell at Berklee College of Music

Who knew there were so many local kids attending, and thriving at, the Berklee College of Music in Boston?

We got an email today saying that eight students from San Mateo County made the dean’s list for the 2009 spring semester, meaning they had GPAs of 3.4 or higher:

– Lauren Blocker, Portola Valley
– Thomas Hass, Moss Beach
– Kelsey Luongo, Hillsborough
– Nate Marsh, Millbrae
– Torin Martinez, Half Moon Bay
– Chayah Miranda, Millbrae
– Heather Rose, Half Moon Bay
– Christopher Sullivan, Burlingame

Congrats to all these students.

Posted on Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009
Under: Burlingame, Education, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, Millbrae, Moss Beach, Portola Valley, San Mateo County, Schools | No Comments »