Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rep. John D. Dingell: Why Health Care Can't Wait

I am fortunate to be the longest serving Member in the history of the United States House of Representatives. I've been a witness, a participant, and a leader in some historical and important moments in our country's history, including the civil rights movement and the enactment of the National Environmental Policy Act, the 1973 Endangered Species Act, and Medicare in 1965. Yet I believe today we face one of the most important decisions in our Nation's history--how to address the insolvency of our health care system that threatens to decimate our country's budget, stability, and overall wellbeing. For 19,420 days, it has been my goal to ensure access to quality, affordable health care for every American. I have been committed to this since my first day in office and today, more than five decades later, my commitment remains steadfast. The resolve to achieve universal health care is just as noble as it was when I first entered Congress, but the urgency is far greater.

Our current system is failing the patients. People are having to choose between feeding their families, paying their bills, or filling their prescriptions. Copays and other fees are so high that even people with health insurance are opting not to see a physician. Further, the most simple, cost-effective, and efficient medical procedures, such as check-ups, physicals, and other preventative measures, are being forgone for more expensive, reactive treatments.

For years, people made the case against a heath care overhaul, claiming it would ration medical care. I would say that because of our failure to act, that is what we now have. Instead of taking care of our people, the best health care goes to those who can afford to pay for it.
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