San Joaquin Valley Democratic Reps. Dennis Cardoza and Jerry McNerney voted for, as Cardoza put it, "the greatest improvement to the quality of health care for all Americans since the creation of Medicare." Republican Rep. George Radanovich voted against what he called "a new entitlement program that will actually harm health care in America."
The three were weighing in on HR 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, which passed the House on a 220-215 vote Saturday night after a long partisan fight.
Cardoza represents the 18th Congressional District, covering Merced County and parts of Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. McNerney holds the 11th Congressional seat, covering most of San Joaquin County. Radanovich is the 19th Congressional District representative, which includes Mariposa County and part of Stanislaus County.
Cardoza said 107,000 people in his district would qualify for insurance under the bill and reimbursement rates would rise for Medicare. Both changes would benefit publicly funded hospitals, resulting in net savings overall.
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According to Radanovich, the bill would cost up to 5.5 million jobs, cut Medicare, increase taxes and balloon the federal deficit.
In a news release posted on his Web site, Radanovich said he supports "common sense reform measures," but sees this bill as a one-way ticket to government-run, rationed care.
"It is utterly irresponsible to inflict his type of pain on small businesses and the middle class," Radanovich said in the posting, adding, "There is no question in my mind that history will look back on this day as a blight on our representative Democracy."
McNerney said he feels the burden of rising health care costs as a small-business owner. The bill as he sees it would allow people to keep the coverage they have, improve care for seniors, help small businesses to stay open and ultimately save the federal government more than $100 billion.
Affordable health care is needed in the valley, where unemployment tops 15 percent and hospitals are reporting spikes in uninsured patients. Doctors Medical Center in Modesto saw visits by patients without insurance jump 50 percent over the past year.
"The cost of caring for those without insurance in our community is paid by the hospitals, the counties, the cities, the taxpayers and those who already have insurance. This legislation marks a dramatic shift in helping to alleviate those costs," Cardoza said in a news release.
Reached by e-mail Sunday, Cardoza said, "increasing the quality of, and access to, health care for my constituents has been a top priority of mine since I was elected to Congress."
Funding commitments to the University of California at Merced's medical school came with the legislation, helping him vote for it "despite some reservations I have with certain aspects of the bill," Cardoza said. "I was also thinking that this is the third quarter of a four-quarter game, and much work remains to refine and improve it."