July 14, 2009
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following statement this morning on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery.
“Most of us have gone to the doctor and taken home advice to help us get better or live healthier.
“Maybe at one point in your life you were told to exercise more. Maybe your doctor suggested you cut something out of your diet, or add something to it. Maybe you were prescribed medication for a short while; maybe even for a long time.
“It’s not always easy advice to hear, or to follow. It’s never easy to change your lifestyle, even if you know you'll be better off in the long run.
“But you also know that the risks of not following your doctor’s orders – the consequences of not taking your medicine – the costs of doing nothing – are far greater. You know that if you don’t do something this time, the news after your next checkup will be even worse. And it will take even more drastic steps or difficult changes to get healthy again.
“Well, America has just had its checkup. And the prognosis is not promising.
“Our health care system is not healthy. Our doctor’s orders are clear: If we don't start taking better care of ourselves, it’s only going to get worse.
“The costs of health care today are staggering. Families in every part of Nevada and in every state feel this every day. But the costs could get much, much higher. And if we do not act, they will.
“The average American family today pays twice as much for its health care as it did a decade ago. If we don’t act, less than a decade from now those costs will double once again.
“Families aren’t making more money, but they are paying more trying to get healthy and to stay healthy. If we don’t act, less than a decade from now you will spend almost half of your family’s income on health care. No one can be expected to afford that – and no one should have to.
“After a while, the trillions of dollars that millions of families spend start to add up. Our country spends twice as much per person on health care than any other developed nation on the planet. Health care costs consume almost 20 cents of every dollar in our economy. If we don’t act, in a generation it will consume more than one-third of every dollar.
“You may be fortunate enough to afford health care this year. But if we don’t act, you may not be able to say the same next year. If we don’t act, your children very likely won’t be able to say the same when they grow up.
“I have read the charts and seen the numbers repeated by those who oppose fixing our broken health care system – charts that warn about what it will take to do what we need to do. But it’s as if they haven’t bothered to do the math on the costs of doing nothing.
“Health care reform is economic reform. That is why we want to lower skyrocketing costs and bring stability and security back to health care. That is why we are committed to passing a plan that protects what works and fixes what doesn’t.
“I am encouraged by the cooperation and commitment of several Republican Senators who are willing to work with us to get that done – and to get it done before it’s too late. I appreciate the tireless work of our Finance and HELP committees as they write a prescription for America that will work. And I still aim to bring their bills to the floor this month.
“But it appears some want to ignore the doctor’s orders. I wish I could say they do so only at their own peril. Yet if a handful of Senators stand in the way of the change we so desperately and urgently need, they will endanger all of us. They will endanger families of every background, businesses of every size, and our nation's collective future.
“We have already seen what happens when we do nothing. Over the past eight years of inaction, the costs of health care rose to record levels, and the number of Americans who can’t afford insurance did the same.
“For the millions of families who file for foreclosure because they can’t afford both their house and their health care, not acting is not an option.
“For the millions of Americans who file for bankruptcy because their medical bills grow higher and higher, not acting is not an option.
“For the millions of Americans who skip the doctor visits or treatments they need to stay healthy – or who never fill out the prescriptions their doctor gives them – because health care is simply too expensive, not acting is not an option.
“Our health care system is not healthy. Americans’ physical health and America’s fiscal health are at stake. And not acting is not an option.”
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