Here is the statement issued today by Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, one of the most liberal Democrats in the Senate, in favor of the consensus health care reform proposal announced by the Senate Democratic leadership earlier this week. If Senator Brown is for the package, we can rest assured that it is the best possible proposal for expanding health care coverage to all Americans.
Senator Brown writes:
When I was first elected to serve in the House of Representatives, I made a promise to Ohioans that I would not accept the Congressional health insurance plan until all Americans had affordable health insurance. Even though I'm serving in the United States Senate now, I'm keeping that promise because I am more committed than ever to fixing our tragically broken system.
I've led the fight for a strong public option in the Senate. I co-authored the public option language adopted by the Senate's Health Committee, and I have been using every opportunity since then to make the case for it.
As you know, some of my Senate Democratic colleagues remain unpersuaded, so Majority Leader Harry Reid asked me and nine other Senators to try to reach an agreement that all 60 Democratic Senators could support. I am pleased that our so-called 'Gang of 10' negotiations produced a framework that is every bit as good as the legislation that Senator Reid brought to the Senate floor.
At this point, nothing is final. I am going to continue to fight for the core principles I need to see in a reform bill to earn my vote -- cutting costs, expanding coverage to as many Americans as possible, and keeping insurance companies honest (it's clear they can't do that on their own).
Our framework would provide every uninsured American with the same kind of health system that Members of Congress enjoy. No state could opt out. And even more importantly, it would let Americans who lack insurance from an employer buy coverage from Medicare when they reach 55.
Ten years ago, I joined Senator Ted Kennedy and others in introducing legislation that would make Medicare available to everyone 55 years of age and older. I am thrilled we may soon make that legislation a reality. At the same time, we will make health care available to millions of low-income Americans, and provide financial help to millions more middle-class Americans so they can afford to purchase health insurance.
Remember when Republicans said they would make health insurance reform President Obama's "Waterloo"? They said they would "break him" if we moved forward, and have been working hard at every turn to obstruct the process, distort what our reform bill would do, and deceive Ohioans with scare tactics and fear mongering. Even today, powerful interest groups are rallying their members to try to stop the expansion of Medicare.
It hasn't worked. Americans are demanding reform, the Senate is responding, and we're going to get this done. Since Harry Truman was in office, Democratic Presidents have been trying to get America's health care system on par with the rest of the developed world. For a long time, reform seemed like a dream -- a great idea always just out of reach.
Today, we're about to make our dreams a reality and finally make good on what we owe our constituents -- a health insurance system that works as well for the middle class and less privileged as it does for the big insurance and pharmaceutical companies. We're working hard to finish this work as soon as possible so we can move on to the many challenges still facing this Congress.