Hawaii’s lawmakers in Congress praise historic health care bill
Hawai'i's congressional delegation yesterday praised the historic restructuring of the nation's health care system as a momentous step forward.
U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawai'i, called the vote a stand for the working man, and U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i, said passage of the reform measure ensures health care for everyone.
"We took a stand for hard-working middle-class families who deserve a better value for their health care dollar," Hirono said in a statement. "Once the bill is signed into law, Americans will see immediate benefits."
The bill will benefit more than 193,000 elderly people in Hawai'i who have grappled with rising prescription drug costs and protects those receiving Medicare, said Bruce Bottorff, AARP Hawai'i spokesman.
"We're very pleased with the passage of the health care reform package," Bottorff said. "The health care reform package promises to contain the growth of costs and make health care more manageable."
Not everyone was pleased with the vote.
Hawai'i Republicans believe the health care reform package will not help Hawai'i residents, said Jonah Ka'auwai, Hawai'i Republican Party chairman.
"The bill undermines our prosperity and the prosperity of our children," Ka'auwai said in a statement. "This complicated and convoluted new government entitlement is another expenditure we are irresponsibly placing on the back of generations to come."
Gov. Linda Lingle said in a news release, "The health care legislation approved by the House ... will force Hawai'i and all the other states into a one-size-fits-all program that is financially unsustainable."
She also said the legislation "does not represent responsible government, nor does it serve the best interest of the American people or the people of Hawai'i."
Meanwhile, Hirono said the health care bill includes an amendment that provides an exemption for Hawai'i's Prepaid Health Care Act.
"Hawai'i's premier state health care law remains intact," Hirono said. "Today's vote brings us closer to providing affordable health care options to part-time workers who aren't covered by the Prepaid Health Care Act."
Akaka said the vote in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act last night moved the nation one step closer to improving health care for all.
"The legislation expands access to health care coverage, improves the quality and availability of services, and attempts to slow increasing costs," Akaka said in a statement. "When the bill becomes law, people with pre-existing conditions will be able to get insurance, and unfair lifetime limits imposed by insurance companies will be prohibited."
The legislation now goes to President Obama for his signature.
"It will improve the lives of Hawai'i families by making health care more affordable and accessible, while preserving the best elements of what Hawai'i already has under our Prepaid Health Care Act," said former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who left his position in Washington to run for governor.
Said Peter Boylan, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye's press secretary: "It is a great day for America and Hawai'i's working families. Sen. Inouye looks forward to moving the reconciliation bill through the Senate to conclude this historic action." The reconciliation bill amends the Senate legislation to fix provisions the House would not accept.