WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released the following statement ahead of Saturday’s procedural vote to allow debate to begin on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the bill that will serve as the basis for Senate floor action on health care reform:
“I am pleased that the Majority Leader has completed his work on merging the Senate health care bills. I intend to vote to allow debate to begin on the Senate floor.
“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act brings us one step closer to passing health insurance reform to provide quality coverage for tens of millions of Americans by increasing access to care and providing more security and stability for Americans worried about paying health care bills or losing coverage if they lose their job. Additionally, the bill:
• preserves patient choice and rewards doctors for giving patients better care;
• helps older Americans by strengthening Medicare and closing the gap in coverage for prescription drugs;
• provides critical consumer protections by ending insurance discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions, health conditions or gender and prohibits annual and lifetime caps on benefits;
• ensures that individuals, businesses and government each do their parts in health care reform;
• invests in our nation’s healthcare workforce so it can meet the needs of the 21st century;
• improves the health of all Americans through prevention and wellness;
• fights health care fraud and abuse; and
• reduces costs – the bill is fully paid for and it will even reduce the deficit by $130 billion over the next ten years and by an additional several hundred billion dollars in the following decade.
“However, there are important issues that need additional work. Consistent with the Hyde amendment, I believe we should continue to ensure that no federal funds are used to pay for abortion or to cover the costs of any health plan that includes abortion. This will require more work as the bill is debated on the Senate floor during the next several weeks.
“I also believe that this bill presents a unique opportunity to provide new and critical support for pregnant women. Too many women face pregnancy frightened and alone. No woman should have to walk that road alone. I will be offering an amendment to help ensure that any pregnant woman has the support and assistance she needs to properly care for herself and her child. I believe there is bipartisan agreement for providing this kind of affirmative assistance to pregnant women.
“Another priority for me is the treatment of children in health care reform, particularly low-income children and children with special needs. I believe that no child should be worse off as a result of health care reform. And I will offer an amendment that will protect low-income children from harm and ensure that they benefit from health care reform.
“I will also continue to work to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries are protected under health care reform.
“These are just a few of the issues I will be working on as we begin this debate. I look forward to a full and comprehensive discussion on the Senate floor.”