WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 The following are the comments of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.):
"Decision time is nearing on health insurance reform, and I will vote to end the filibuster on Saturday so the Senate can begin this important and historic debate. We cannot afford to let the health industry's sentries of the status quo kick the can down the road as they have done so often before. The country suffers when there is a failure to act on serious challenges that ordinary Americans face in their daily lives.
"This is a defining moment for the Senate and for the country, ranking alongside other major decisions such as the creation of Social Security and Medicare, and the Civil Rights Act. The Senate should not hide behind the fig leaf of a procedural filibuster.
"A bill worthy of this debate has been produced after months of arduous drafting and redrafting and honing. I will continue to push for a final bill that ensures access to quality affordable health care and that ends discriminatory treatment of those who change jobs or have preexisting conditions. I am encouraged that the Senate bill includes a public option that I have strongly supported, and I will fight with others as we make our case for keeping it in the plan.
"Improvements can be made in the final reform bill, and that is the purpose of bringing it to the Senate Floor. I have worked to improve the 'Three Cs' of competition, choice and cost reduction in health insurance reform, and I intend to offer an amendment to end the antitrust exemption now enjoyed by health insurance companies. Momentum continues to build for including this repeal in the final plan."
SOURCE Office of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy