Now we’ll hear about it for the next eight months

The House has passed the Senate’s $940 billion health reform bill on a 219-212 vote, and the news releases are flying hot and heavy, as they surely will continue to do on this issue from now through November’s midterm Congressional elections.

From Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton:

Jerry McNerney“For nine months, I’ve been listening to our community’s thoughts and ideas on health care reform. I’ve held public events that hundreds of people have attended and have met with seniors, patients, veterans, small business owners, doctors, and nurses. Thousands of people have also emailed, written letters, and called my office.

“I’ve heard from people denied health coverage for preexisting conditions like diabetes and allergies. I’ve met seniors who can’t afford the monthly cost of prescription drugs. I’ve talked with small businesses owners who have been forced to lay off employees because of skyrocketing premiums. I’ve heard many heartbreaking stories about the struggle so many Americans face right now to afford health care.

“I’ve carefully reviewed the proposal, read every page, and listened to all the input that the people I represent have offered. Throughout this process, I’ve stood up for reform that will lower costs, give families security and peace-of-mind, and make sure people can choose their doctor and care.

“Today, we took a critical step towards making health care more affordable for American families and helping to guarantee our nation’s long-term economic prosperity. Reforming health care is a fiscally responsible course of action that will build on the best of the American system by making sure people can keep their current insurance if they like it and choose what doctors they want see.

“Reform will reduce the growth of health care costs by creating fair, transparent and competitive health insurance markets and cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse. It will improve benefits for seniors, help small businesses to stay open, and stop insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions or kicking sick people off their plans.”

From Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele:

michael_steele“Californians have plenty of reason to be disappointed today, as Representative McNerney chose to continue siding with the liberal leaders in Washington and support this government takeover of health care. Rep. McNerney should be ashamed to have been part of this partisan trickery and underhanded tactics used to ram this bill through Congress. And even more so, he should be ashamed to have supported a bill that will force already struggling Californians to face a future of higher taxes, increased premiums and Medicare cuts.

“Americans across the country have made their voices heard and flatly reject this legislation loaded with special deals and tax increases, but Rep. McNerney did not listen to them and instead chose to force this bill through by any means necessary. Rep. McNerney can be sure that voters in his district will not forget this vote that will negatively affect Americans for generations to come, and this November they will be sure to send him packing.”

Many more voices, after the jump…

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“Tonight, my colleagues and I cast an historic vote to improve the health and wellness of millions of Americans who suffer because they are uninsured and under-insured and because of massive gaps in our nation’s health care system.

“Tonight, I cast my vote for all those people who deserve health care but simply can’t afford it. I cast my vote for our senior citizens who will see their prescription drug costs go down. I cast my vote for our children and grandchildren, so that they can live longer, fuller and healthier lives. I cast my vote in memory of those people who didn’t have preventive care and died prematurely.

“There is no doubt this bill has flaws. Many of us would have preferred a single-payer system or at least a public option. However, this bill offers vitally important advances for health care – making coverage more affordable and expanding access to much needed services.

“I worked tirelessly with my colleagues to ensure that this bill holds insurance companies accountable and included a number of cost-saving provisions. We were vocal advocates for provisions in the bill to combat health disparities, illnesses and diseases that disproportionately affect low-income and minority communities.

“To those who suffer from those health disparities, our vote tonight carries significance similar to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in that it fulfills a dream that has been elusive for far too long and for far too many Americans.

“This bill is a victory not only for our constituents, but for all Americans because it will make us a stronger and healthier nation. In my district alone this bill will extend coverage to 52,000 people immediately including young adults who have been kicked off their parents insurance. It will also improve coverage for 367,000 residents in my district.

“By passing this ground breaking legislation, we have finally given the power back to the people. No longer will the insurance companies have a strangle hold on the American people and their health care.

“I urge my Senate colleagues to move swiftly and pass the reconciliation package and enact the changes that the President has asked for and Congress has agreed to.”

From California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring:

“This evening, following a series of backroom deals and arm twisting, President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi convinced Congressional Democrats to support a government-run health care bill that increases taxes, raises premiums and slashes Medicare. This bill does nothing to help Californians, but instead is loaded with sweetheart deals and kickbacks, which seems to be business as usual in Nancy Pelosi’s Congress.

“Unfortunately for California voters, Democrats like Loretta Sanchez, Jerry McNerney and Jim Costa ignored the pleas of their constituents and instead chose to give in to their party bosses in Washington. Make no doubt about it, this November the people of California will go to the ballot box in droves to elect Republican candidates who will listen to them and focus on creating jobs for the Golden State–not a government takeover of their healthcare.”

From Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont:

“Forty-five years ago, President Johnson signed Medicare into law and guaranteed health care to every American 65 and over. Today we have extended that guarantee to all Americans.”

From Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tom Campbell:

“I opposed this bill because it took away the freedom of individual Americans to choose the health care insurance policy that was best for them. It allows the federal government to set what must be in every medical insurance policy and to impose a penalty if your policy is more generous. If I am elected to the United State Senate, I will work towards reforming those two weaknesses. I believe we should cover those with pre-existing conditions and those who cannot afford health insurance but are not presently eligible for Medicaid or Medical. But the way to do that is through an assigned risk pool, not through the single dominant federal role in health care that the Senate bill creates.

“A number of states have announced they will challenge this federal bill. I believe that the constitutionality of the federal mandate in this bill is highly doubtful under U.S. v Lopez (1995). I encourage that those challenges go forward. But if the federal mandate is struck down as unconstitutional, then the entire bill will have to be reworked and that will provide the opportunity to do what I recommend be done for those with pre-existing conditions and those too poor to afford health insurance under the existing law.”

From House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez:

“Approval of this legislation marks a major moment in America’s determined march toward greater equality and opportunity – a journey that has been interrupted and delayed far too many times in my lifetime.

“Congress has finally voted to make health insurance accessible and more affordable for everyone, and in so doing will create millions of jobs, reduce the federal budget deficit, and finally hold accountable the insurance companies that have caused so much panic and pain in the lives of hard-working Americans.

“Against all odds, history has been made. We promised health reform and we have delivered it.”

“Individuals, families, small businesses, and taxpayers in my district will benefit. Never again will you be at risk of losing your insurance if you lose or change your job, children will be able to stay on their parents plans until age 26, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and they will not be allowed to drop your coverage when you get sick.

“Community health centers and hospitals in Solano and Contra Costa counties will be better able to serve their patients, and our economy will be stronger.”

From Republican U.S. Senate candidate Chuck DeVore:

“The passage of this phony healthcare ‘reform’ is a tremendous blow to the cause of fiscal restraint, limited government, Constitutional principles, and free enterprise. In short, it strikes directly at America’s core principles. This is shameful moment in the history of our country — and especially the Democratic Party, which has apparently come unmoored from whatever remaining attachment it had to the ideals of our Founders. In place of a dedication to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ there is only a rapacious impulse to ever-expanded state control, and an avaricious imperative to seize ever-more of your rightful possessions.

“The Democrats are beyond reason. They are beyond appeals to common sense and patriotism. The corrupt milieu that produced President Barack Obama has metastasized and seated itself in Washington, D.C. — and we saw it on full display in the razor-thin passage of this healthcare ‘reform.’ Every trick, every pressure, every shameless deal was done. Down to perverting the rules of the American Congress, the Democrats stopped at nothing.

“Perhaps most pathetic was the spectacle of Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak, who exchanged his pro-life principles for a hollow promise from the most pro-abortion President in American history. That executive order won’t stand up to judicial scrutiny — the President cannot override the law by fiat — and pro-life organizations like National Right to Life and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops understand that it’s a worthless scrap of paper. Yet Rep. Stupak’s desperation for thin cover to do the wrong thing is useful in one way: it illustrates the union of moral vacuum and maneuvering deception at the core of the Democratic effort for Obamacare.

“That’s why the American people will throw them out of office this November.”

From Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto:

“More than a century has passed since Teddy Roosevelt first called for healthcare reform. Today we have finally kept 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.

“The U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other country in the world and the costs are crippling to our economy. This legislation will reduce the deficit by a whopping $143 billion over ten years and $1.2 trillion over twenty years, the single largest deficit reduction plan in 25 years. It will eliminate discriminatory insurance practices and it will open the insurance market to millions of Americans who have been priced-out.

“I believe that by voting for this legislation, I am standing no the right side of history. Our achievement is also a tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy. His unwavering commitment to decent healthcare for all Americans paved the way for this landmark legislation and today’s historic vote.”

From Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina:

“While our nation’s health care system is in need of reform, the legislation passed today is an example of the ‘cure’ being worse than the disease. It is a patchwork of Washington insider deals, and it will cost California taxpayers millions, if not billions, of dollars we cannot afford.

“This was intended to be a bipartisan effort to improve the quality of our health care while also reducing costs. Sadly, the bill passed today is actually nothing but a product of the insider games we see played all too often in Washington. As a result, the will of the American people was ignored today. Instead, Congress passed a disastrous bill along party lines that will raise health care premiums by 10 to 13 percent, increase taxes by more than half a trillion dollars and put our nation deeper into debt. The tax increases required to fund this new entitlement will place an unfair burden on California’s small-business owners and entrepreneurs, the very people on whom we depend to create jobs and rebuild our economy.

“I don’t trust career politicians like Barbara Boxer, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to understand how our complex health care system actually works, much less ‘fix’ it in one fell swoop with a massive 5,000-page piece of legislation. There are bipartisan solutions that we know from experience will work to decrease costs, increase competition and improve the quality of care – solutions that are notably absent from this legislation. Instead of working to jam this massive bill through, let’s take a step back and fix specific problems with specific solutions that have bipartisan support.”

UPDATE @ 10:30 P.M.: From Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove:

“Today, Democrats in the House of Representatives voted to form a more perfect union. By expanding health care coverage to 32 million Americans, we are continuing the proud American tradition of promoting justice, ensuring the general welfare, and broadening access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

“Republican leaders in the 1930s said Social Security would lead to ‘the lash of the dictator’ and in the 1960s said Medicare would lead to grandparents telling stories of ‘what it once was like in America when men were free.’ Yet with time, Social Security and Medicare became incredibly popular services cherished by most Americans. A broader consensus emerged, and a more perfect union was formed. I am confident that the same will soon be said about today’s health care reform bill.

“When the people get past the slogans, the fear tactics, and the gross distortions, what they find in this legislation is a series of ideas widely popular and aligned with the best of American values. This is the second largest deficit reduction bill in 20 years. In my district, 9,000 people with preexisting conditions will finally be able to have access to insurance. 96,000 seniors will see their Medicare improved with significant prescription drug discounts and free preventative screenings. 106,000 families will receive tax credits to make their coverage more affordable. 52,000 young adults will be able to attain coverage through their parents’ insurance. 13,100 small business owners will receive significant tax rebates. 1,400 families will avoid bankruptcy. A similar story exists in every corner of this great country.

“In the fight to extend health coverage to every man, woman, and child, this bill is an incredibly important beginning. But it’s still just a beginning. ‘A more perfect union’ implies that the progress of the American experience is never complete. Each subsequent generation is expected to pick up the torch and continue on our long road toward positive change. Today the House of Representatives bestowed upon this great nation the most historic health reform since Medicare. I am proud to have voted ‘yes’ for health care reform. I won’t live to see a perfect union, but it is a tremendous honor to see a more perfect union formed before my eyes.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Jk

    16,000 new IRS agents.
    3.8% tax on bank interest.
    Trillions in new spending.
    The government standing between patients and doctors on what choices are right for patients.
    Abortion funded by tax dollars.
    Every citizen required to buy a product from private companies or face jail time.
    The elimination of private loan companies for student loans.
    The elimination of senior advantage medicare programs.
    Rationing of medical care to seniors.

    This is a turning point in the prosperity and freedom of our country. The American People will remember exactly who did this.

    A year ago, the government said that borrowing $900 BILLION would create millions of jobs. Now unemployment has doubled and they said it only “saved” millions of jobs. Today they are borrowing and spending TRILLIONS to start the road to government run health care. The people who run the post office and the DMV will now control your ability to get healthcare.

    This tyranny will not stand. The American people will rise up against this despotism.

  • Common Tater

    You wish you’ll hear about it only for the next eight months. It will really be much, much longer. The true colors of the democrats have finally been revealed.

    You really think this will be over in eight months? Think again – the division is permanent.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Thank you Congressman McNerney. I’ll be walking precincts for you this fall on account of your vote.

    Ignore these yapping teabaggers. They seem to be happier that corporate tycoons..you know the people that brought our economy to its knees…get to decide who receives healthcare than doctors.

    The American people voted for big Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate and they voted for a Democratic President because they wanted reform. For 8 long years Bush and his cronies allowed the insurance industry to rape and pillage the American people. The gig is now up.

    Go drink some more tea and burn a cross ya knuckledraggers.

  • Decency

    Complain about higher taxes? Complain about the government forcing everyone to buy health insurance?

    Well, according to “Bob Loblaw”, this makes you a “cross-burning faggot helping the insurance industry”.

    Let’s hope that “Bob Loblaw” visits every precinct out there for his congressman!

  • Mike F.

    Mr. Loblaw,
    “Burn a cross” – why do you thrust this comment onto others with the connotation of racial hatred? Next time take the high ground without trying to incite your opponent. Use logic and analysis to make your point, even stick to simply comending Rep. McNerney. I would not like to see you walk precincts with that attitude, who knows how you’d react should you come accross others that difer with your opinion. Would your family, friends, or co-workers be proud that you used such language in your commentary? Think before you write.

  • John W.

    From my point of view, as a lifelong supporter of health insurance reform (and health care reform), I’m pleased that McNerney stood tall in a district where doing so may well cost him his seat. The president and Democrats have burned up a huge amount of political capital over this issue. Foolish? I don’t think so. What good is political capital if you aren’t prepared to use it on behalf of a cause in which you believe? If the Democrats lose control of the Congress and White House, so be it. It will make for a good refresher course on why Democrats won in 2006 and 2008 in the first place. How people can find it acceptable to have a convoluted “system” in which the share of GDP spent on health care is twice as high as other nations and, yet, tens of millions are left out of the system is beyond me.

  • John M

    How’d you get Michael Steele to beat up on you? That should be worth a lot, all by itself. Now, if only Karl Rove…

  • Carl S

    Way to go McNerny! We need more politicians like you. The fear mongering will continue even as the reforms kick in and people start realizing how much this bill helps them. For most people you won’t see a change. You will still get your insurance through work and nothing will change. That’s not so scary 🙂

    Resist the fear!

  • danvilledan

    Stand tall Congressman McNerny you made the right call.