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Area lawmakers react to Obama's health care address

September 10, 2009

Tri-State area senators and representatives issued the following statements on President Obama's joint address to Congress Wednesday night:

U.S. Sen. Robert P. "Bob" Casey Jr., D-Pa.:

"The President tonight helped to show the real stakes in this debate. He helped to cut through the misinformation and rhetoric of the special interests that have diverted attention away from the real issues.

What we do in Washington can have a very real, positive impact on the health and well-being of Americans who have been denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, who worry about losing their health insurance or who have no coverage at all.

We have made progress on health insurance reform, but we have work to do to get to the finish line. President Obama's leadership will help get us there."

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U.S. Sen. John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va.:

"Tonight the president outlined a clear vision for health reform -- a plan that will put families ahead of corporate profits, reduce skyrocketing health care costs, and provide a strong pathway for more Americans to access meaningful and affordable care.

"The president's leadership is paramount at this critical time in the reform process, and I welcome his views. Working together, I believe we can produce a bill that works for all West Virginians. It will take more hard work and a commitment to improving a broken system from both sides of the aisle, but I know it can be done." 

Rockefeller serves as the chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, and has authored numerous pieces of legislation to shape health care reform.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.:

"While I applaud the president for laying out his views tonight, it will be the actions of his party's leadership in Congress over the coming days and weeks that will matter most," Capito said. "There's broad bipartisan consensus that we must reform our health care system, but there's far from consensus that the speaker's plan is the right way forward. 

"Instead of seeking areas of agreement like ending denials of coverage for pre-existing conditions, addressing health care portability, focusing on prevention or targeting the uninsured, the legislation before the House amounts to a $1 trillion plan that hikes taxes on employers, ignores the need for meaningful tort reform and threatens to push millions of Americans onto a government insurance plan."

U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md.:

"I applaud the president for directly confronting one of the most pressing issues facing our country today - the skyrocketing cost of health care. The need for health reform is very real, as each day 14,000 Americans lose their health insurance. Throughout the summer, at town hall meetings and other events across our state, I have met face-to-face with many Marylanders who have struggled to afford their current health coverage or have been denied access by insurers. The president reminded us all tonight of the immense cost of inaction to these individuals, families, small business, and our entire national economy. For their sake, we must pass health care reform this year.

"The goal of successful health care reform is clear. We must bring down the escalating cost of health care while providing access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans. And we must accomplish this without adding to our nation's deficit."

U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa.:

"The president's speech was inspirational with a substantive, pragmatic blueprint for comprehensive insurance healthcare reform without adding to the deficit or the national debt.

"Invoking the passion of Senator Kennedy, he correctly challenged the Congress on the morality of providing health care for the needy and the practicality of making health insurance affordable for the middle class."

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