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Hardy Brown: What's On My Mind

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Dear Hardy:

I write to express my surprise at the piece entitled “Joe Baca: What’s On Your Agenda?” which appeared recently in the Black Voice News. Through the year long debate on healthcare, I have consistently been supportive of President Obama and served as a strong advocate in Congress for reform that lowers costs, increases coverage to more Americans, and ends denial of coverage for Americans with preexisting medical conditions.

Any assertions to the contrary are simply not true.

As you may remember, when the current healthcare debate first began in earnest last summer, early on I expressed my support for the inclusion of a public option in any substantial health reform bill. In fact, I hosted a health forum right here in the 43rd District, at which I expressed my views on health reform and heard valuable feedback from the community. In November of 2009, I was proud to stand with the President and other supporters of insurance reform to pass the Affordable Healthcare for America Act – healthcare legislation that included a public option on state run insurance exchanges. If you doubt the sincerity of my support for this legislation, I urge you to view the Congressional Record online at www.congress.gov. If you do view these records, you will find that I spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives numerous times in support of healthcare reform in the last few weeks leading up to the vote on the Affordable Healthcare for America Act. The online video of these floor speeches can also be found at http://www.c-span-video.org/videoLibrary/congress.php.

As the debate continued in to 2010, President Obama released his final healthcare proposal on February 22. While some of my colleagues in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus initially remained neutral on this proposal, I immediately made my voice clear as a strong supporter of the President’s plan. Just as in 2009, I expressed my support of healthcare reform early and often. In the months leading up to the final vote on the historic legislation, I spoke on the House floor on seven different occasions in support of healthcare reform. Again, I urge you to research my words in the Congressional Record at www.congress.gov; and view the video of my floor speeches at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/videoLibrary/congress.php.

Make no mistake, outside of my vote against the Iraq war; I consider my vote cast in support of healthcare reform late on the evening of March 21 to be the single most important vote in my time in Congress.

I am well aware of the positive impact this historic healthcare reform will have on our communities in the Inland Empire.

In my Congressional District alone this reform will give health coverage to 119,000 people who previously lacked any insurance, and improve coverage for 362,000 residents who currently have insurance. It will also give tax credits and other assistance to up to 146,000 families and 10,000 small businesses to help them afford coverage. And by creating state-run small business health option exchanges, increases the number of quality, affordable coverage options to business owners and employees.

Thanks to the President’s leadership and my vote in Congress 22,600 of my constituents with pre-existing conditions will now obtain coverage, over 1,500 Inland families will now be protected from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs, and staring in September of this year, over 75,000 students and young adults in my District will now be able to obtain coverage on their parents’ insurance plans, and be guaranteed insurance security until at least the age of 26. And healthcare reform provides important benefits to America’s seniors, extending Medicare’s solvency and fixing the ‘donut hole’, so 5,200 seniors in my District will never again have to choose between putting food on the table or buying medicine.

Hardy, given our personal history together, I am confused as to why you would doubt my support for healthcare reform? Affordable health care is a basic civil right for all Americans. I have worked closely with you to bring greater awareness to PLS, through the introduction of legislation that passed the House of Representatives calling for February to be known as PLS awareness month. I have always stood with those who suffer from preexisting conditions, whether it is PLS, cancer, diabetes, or any other illness, and fought for fair treatment and affordable coverage from insurance companies. And I have always stood with those whose civil rights are in jeopardy. In Congress, I continue to serve as an advocate for African American, Hispanic, and Native American farmers in their fight for justice against the discriminations of the USDA.

In the days and weeks leading up to the final contentious vote on healthcare reform, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) sent important reminders to its supporters, urging them to contact Members of Congress. I am certain this is the communication you received that you reference in your editorial piece. I am disappointed that you would use one such blanket reminder as a reason to write an attack piece that blatantly misrepresents my position on healthcare. If you had simply stopped to ask me my position, call my office, or done even the most basic level of research - whether through the Congressional Record, the other media outlets here in the Inland Empire, or through my own website (www.house.gov/baca) - it would have been obvious to you that I have stood with President Obama from the very beginning on this critical issue.

As for my agenda moving forward: I will continue to support President Obama, and work in Congress to improve our communities by creating more new jobs, improving our struggling schools, better regulating our financial markets, increasing opportunities for affordable housing, improving nutrition in America’s schools, fighting against childhood obesity, and reforming America’s broken immigration system. Again, if you ever have future questions on any of my legislative positions, I urge you to please ask me, feel free to call my office at 202-225-6161, before you print something that simply isn’t true.

JOE BACA, Congressman
43rd Congressional District

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