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Dear VoteDemsOut2010,

Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts about health reform. This is such an important issue, and
I'm glad you've been in touch. I am proud to see so many West Virginians participating in the conversation about
moving our country's health care system forward. Right now, we have a profound opportunity to fix our broken health
care system, rein in runaway health care costs, and make life better for hundreds of thousands of West Virginians.

When I first began my career in public service, I learned a valuable lesson: health care is a right and should not
merely be a privilege. Today, it is an undeniable fact that thousands of families in our state carry the burden of failed
health care policies and unmet promises. Roughly 17 percent of West Virginians have decided at one point or another
not to visit a doctor because they could not afford it. More than 75 percent of people who cited medical expenses in
their bankruptcy claims actually had health insurance, and most of them had jobs. The growing and deeply felt
insecurity of being one step removed from disaster runs like a common thread throughout our entire health care
system. With more than 46 million uninsured people in this country, and 25 million more who are underinsured, I feel
more strongly than ever that we must not lose sight of the moral imperative to extend health care coverage that is
affordable and meaningful to every West Virginian and to all Americans.

Health care reform is about the many hard-working West Virginians who have shared their concerns with me
about rising health care costs and eroding coverage. It is about the more than 250,000 uninsured West Virginians - and
tens of thousands more who are underinsured in our state and one step away from medical and financial
disaster. Health care reform is about providing tangible health care solutions that make a difference in our day-to-day
lives, through good times and bad. It is about giving our children a healthy start in life and improving the stability of
health insurance coverage for working families. It is about providing our seniors with the benefits they need, while
protecting the Medicare trust fund for many years to come. With so much at stake, people's needs and expectations are
high, and so are mine.

I am proud of the progress that Congress has achieved thus far. All five Congressional committees with
jurisdiction over health care have passed health reform legislation, including the Senate Finance Committee, of which I
am a member and where I serve as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health Care. During the Senate Finance
Committee's consideration of S. 1796, the America's Healthy Future Act, we considered scores of amendments and
engaged in hours of debate. Ultimately, we passed this legislation out of the Finance Committee by a vote of 14-9. You
can find more information about the America's Healthy Future Act - including the text of the bill, hearing testimony,
list of amendments, and vote results - at the Finance Committee's website
at: If you do not have a computer available in
your home, you can visit your local library and access the Internet free of charge.

While I have made no secret of the fact that I believe some parts of the Finance Committee proposal falls short
of the stated goals of comprehensive health reform, there were some significant successes. We defended the Children's
Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to protect the health coverage of millions of children, including nearly 40,000
in West Virginia. We protected the health benefits of retirees and workers in high-risk professions - like coal miners
and firefighters - West Virginians who risk their lives in dangerous jobs that take a toll on their health. We expanded
Medicaid to cover an additional 14 million vulnerable Americans, and reduced the number of uninsured Americans by
29 million people overall. We included critical insurance market reforms to make sure that the coverage you have today
and in the future is adequate and reliable - so that it meets your health care needs.

Not only do I believe we can build on these improvements moving forward, but I also believe that the status quo
is far worse, which is why I voted to report the America's Healthy Future Act out of the Senate Finance
Committee. My vote was recognition of the fact that the status quo is simply unacceptable and unsustainable. You may
be interested to know, however, that I submitted 13 pages of additional views on the America's Healthy Future Act,
which outline the key issues that I believe Congress must address going forward - in order to expand the availability of
health coverage, lower costs to increase the affordability of coverage, and require greater accountability on the part of
health insurance companies. You can read my additional views by going to my website
at: I am committed to fighting for meaningful health reform
every step of the way - on the Senate floor and in conference with the House of Representatives. Please visit my
website for continuous updates:

On November 18, 2009, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proposed the Patient Protection and Affordable
Care Act. This legislation not only merges the components of the health reform bills reported out of the two Senate
committees with jurisdiction over health care - the Finance Committee and the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
(HELP) Committee - it also substantially improves the health reform proposals included in each bill. Many of the
improvements made by Senator Reid incorporate the provisions that I have promoted as vital to comprehensive health
reform, including: the preservation of CHIP for children, the establishment of the Independent Medicare Advisory
Board to improve the solvency and quality of Medicare, additional insurance market reforms to stop health insurance
companies from denying care to people who need it, and a public health insurance option to drive down costs and keep
health insurance companies honest. You can find more information about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care
Act - including the text of the bill, a section-by-section bill summary, descriptions of specific provisions, and an
implementation timeline - at the Democratic Policy Committee's website at:

On Saturday, November 21, more than 72 hours after the bill was first proposed and the full legislative language
was posted online, the Senate voted on a motion to proceed to H.R. 3590, the legislative vehicle for consideration of the
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The motion to proceed passed the Senate by a vote of 60 to 39, and floor
debate on the bill will begin immediately after Thanksgiving. I will keep your views clearly in mind as the health
reform debate moves forward.

I firmly believe the time is now for Congress to submit a plan to the President that achieves comprehensive
health care reform. We simply cannot afford to wait. There are real people in West Virginia with lives hanging in the

Thank you again for writing. It is always good to hear from my fellow West Virginians about matters of
importance. Best wishes.

With Warm Regards,

Jay Rockefeller