After Massachusetts Election, Health Insurance Reform Remains Critical to Economic Growth

A lot of things may have changed in light of the Massachusetts special election upset Tuesday, but one thing that remains the same is the health insurance crisis in America. We must address this crisis.

Health care costs are unsustainable; they're still crushing families, small businesses and large companies. When people lose their jobs they lose their health insurance. People with jobs -- and those who want coverage but find out they have a pre-existing condition -- still can't get insurance. Businesses large and small come before Congress every day and tell us how they're going to have to drop coverage for their employees or go out of business.

All of these problems remain, and so does our need to address them.

President Obama and a majority in both the House and Senate remain committed to enacting fiscally responsible health insurance reform that provides greater affordability, accessibility and accountability to American families and businesses. With the loss of the 60th vote in the Senate last Tuesday, we are exploring the means by which we can enact needed reform, but we are not backing away from our commitment to a responsible and balanced bill.

The election result in Massachusetts in part reflected the tremendous fear and frustration Americans understandably feel as the impacts of the worst recession in generations continue. Americans desperately want and need to see new jobs created, small businesses need help, our financial system requires new accountability, and we must reduce the budget deficit.

Despite stagnation in the Senate caused by the relentless and undemocratic opposition of the Republican minority, this Congress has been focused on jobs and the economy. In addition to the successful and critical American Recovery Act passed last year that is delivering millions of dollars to our community to create jobs, the House passed a second jobs bill just before Christmas that I helped to write to help save the jobs of teachers, firefighters, law enforcement officers and to put people back to work rebuilding our infrastructure. The Senate could not take up our bill because of Republican filibustering. We will continue to fight for new jobs and investments in our country.

But the economy and health reform are connected, and we can and must focus on both at the same time. Reforming health insurance laws is key to whether employers will hire or not. Reports show that reforming health insurance will create millions of jobs over the next decade and will help us reduce the deficit by billions of dollars.

Tragically, Republicans in Washington decided to become the 'Party of No'. They announced early last year that they would do everything in their power to stop President Obama from enacting health insurance reform in the hopes of weakening the President's standing. Senator-elect Scott Brown from Massachusetts has said "no" to health reform, even though Massachusetts is the only state in this country with affordable health care for all -- a law that Sen. Brown supported. Their reform is similar to what we are trying to provide for all Americans, and it is overwhelmingly popular.

But saying "no" is not a solution for America. Saying "no" doesn't help one worker keep his or her health insurance. Saying "no" doesn't stop insurance companies from denying children coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Saying "no" doesn't cure the health care problems that economists and business leaders agree are dragging our nation's economy down and hurting our international competitiveness.

We recognize that voters in Massachusetts, like millions of other Americans, are upset about the economy and about parts of the health reform bill and special privileges that the Senate put in their bill for Nebraska, for example, and others. Those privileges have no place in this effort and should be removed from a final bill.

The path to reform has been made more difficult by Tuesday's election, but the need for reform has become no less urgent.

What the House has been fighting for, and what we will continue to fight for, are key reforms to deliver quality, affordable health care for the American people that offer security for families and businesses across the country.

Also crossposted at Chairman Miller's personal blog.