Stupak speaks

March 27, 2010 by barbara

barbara writes

A friend who's a constituent of the on-again, off-again Bart Stupak, received this letter from him re his health care reform vote. He was the Dems' insider pain in the patoot and also rallied his little cadre of troops to press through passage of the bill.

Devil or angel? You decide:

March 25, 2010

Dear :

Thank you for your communication on health care reform legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590), which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on March 21, 2010. I was honored to witness the signing of this historic legislation by President Obama at the White House on March 23, 2010.

My vote on health care reform was the most difficult vote I have cast during my 20 years as a state representative and a member of Congress. Read on.

This legislation will affect every American. During my time in Congress, I have cast several very difficult votes, such as going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, military actions in Bosnia and Kosovo, and the impeachment of President Clinton. I studied each issue carefully and spent many hours reading legislation, conducting research, and talking with constituents in my congressional district and my colleagues in Congress.

I am honored to serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee, where most of the language included in the House health care bill was drafted. As the House health care legislation was developed and amended throughout the committee process, I was actively involved in improving and modifying the bill.

I voted YES on the final health care reform bill, H.R. 3590, which was a compromise between the legislative proposals passed by U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate last year. The president also suggested changes that were incorporated in the final bill. The final product included strong consumer protections, eliminated the "sweet heart deals" in the Senate bill and dropped the "public option" included in the House bill.

Throughout the health care debate, I held firm in my insistence that no public funding for abortions would be included in the bill and that current Hyde amendment restrictions on funding of abortions would be maintained. When the House voted on November 7, 2009 I was successful in passing an amendment that upheld the Hyde restrictions. However, the Senate could only muster 45 votes in support of my amendment and it was defeated on December 8, 2009. I remained concerned that the health care bill passed by the Senate allowed public funding for abortions at community health centers. After the Stupak amendment was defeated in the Senate, pro-life House Democrats explored additional legislative proposals and procedures in an effort to secure the 60 votes needed in the Senate to limit federal funding for abortions. With only 45 pro-life votes in the Senate, passage was impossible.

My House pro-life colleagues and I then negotiated an Executive Order with President Obama, which "maintains current Hyde amendment restrictions governing abortion policy and extends those restrictions to the newly-created health insurance exchanges." The Executive Order also specifically prevents the funding and performing of abortions at community health centers. This Executive Order has the full force and effect of law and was signed on March 24, 2010 by President Obama in the Oval Office of the White House. I attended the signing of the Executive Order where the President was emphatic in his support of the Executive Order referring to it as "iron clad."

Some pro-life groups have condemned the Executive Order and demanded statutory language similar to the Stupak amendment. The reality is the Stupak amendment only received 45 of the required 60 votes in the Senate. The Executive Order was the only vehicle available to maintain the Hyde restrictions in the health care reform legislation.

I am surprised and disappointed by the reaction of some pro-life groups in opposition to the Executive Order given the fact that these same groups embraced President Bush's Executive Order in June 2007 banning embryonic stem cell research. The language on enforcement of the Executive Order through the courts is identical in both presidents' Executive Orders.

In the final health care reform bill, veterans are exempt from the legislation. The VA and TRICARE systems remain untouched. Seniors remain on Medicare, receive relief from the donut hole and have their preventive screenings and tests fully covered.

Small businesses immediately receive tax credits to assist owners in providing health care coverage for employees. Consumer protections prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against individuals with pre-existing conditions, extend insurance coverage for dependent children up to age 26, prevent health plans from dropping insurance coverage when people are sick and eliminate lifetime caps on coverage.

I have enclosed information sheets on many of the highlights found in the new health care reform legislation, which will provide 32 million uninsured Americans with access to quality, health care.

Thank you for your communication. If you should have further questions or concerns on health care or any other issue, please visit my web site.

Sincerely,

BART STUPAK
Member of Congress

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