by Jim Nintzel
District 8 Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on health-care reform: Changes necessary before she can support it.
As Congress nears a final vote on health insurance reform, let me be completely clear about where I stand: I strongly and enthusiastically support reform.
After hearing from thousands of my constituents on this topic over the past year, I am convinced that something must be done to hold insurance companies accountable, give Southern Arizonans greater health care choices and bring down medical costs.
The legislation before us, while far from perfect, represents a needed step forward.
Last fall, I was proud to support legislation that included a public option. My constituents know that I am a former small business owner who believes
in common sense solutions. I know first-hand the challenge of providing employee health insurance as costs climb every year.
Throughout this long deliberative process, I have worked hard to answer as many of my constituents questions as possible and offer them every opportunity to voice their concerns. Last summer, I held numerous town halls, giving concerned individuals and business owners the opportunity to share their opinions. Since the health insurance reform discussion began in the spring of 2009, my office has received over 20,000 constituent communications on this topic.
While there is a diversity of opinion on what course we should take, there is also some agreement. My constituents fear they won’t be able to afford the rising costs of health care, whether they purchase it on their own or receive it from their employers. Seniors who are Medicare beneficiaries struggle to pay for the skyrocketing costs of their prescription drugs, and small and large business owners alike cannot afford to offer even the most basic insurance plans to their employees.
Congress has attempted to pass health insurance reform for more than 70 years. From the beginning of this latest effort it became clear that those who profit from the status quo will stop at nothing to kill reform. They distort the truth and play on our fears about our most important and personal concern: how we or our loved ones will be cared for if we become ill or injured.
Right now, there are five different outside organizations spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on misleading TV and radio ads in Southern Arizona. The corporate coalitions behind these attacks are trying to scare my constituents and persuade me to abandon reform. It won’t happen. My vote has never been and will never be susceptible to negative attack ads, no matter how much they spend.
I have been vocal about my concerns with the current legislation, which would have a significant effect on Arizona. My home state has been generous in offering health insurance to low income children and the working poor. Under the legislation passed by the Senate, Arizona would be punished by not receiving our share of matching funds from the federal government. Soon after the Senate bill was passed, I contacted the President and congressional leaders to explain that Arizona cannot afford the unintended burden on our already decimated state budget.
I am very optimistic that this issue, and others, will be resolved when we see the text of the final legislation, perhaps as soon as next week. When and if these problems are addressed, I will publicly commit to vote for this historic health insurance reform legislation.