"And this is the cause of my life -- new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American -- north, south, east, west, young, old -- will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege."
-- Sen. Edward Kennedy (1932-2009)
While Sen. Kennedy touched all our hearts and fought for a host of progressive issues, the cause that he's most closely associated with is winning the fight to give everyone quality, affordable health care. Because of his health issues, he went so far as to resign his seat from the Senate Judiciary Committee so he could focus his energies on health care reform. Unfortunately, he did not live to see his lifelong dream become a reality.
On July 15, Kennedy's last bill, the Affordable Health Choices Act, passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and is waiting consideration by the full Senate. It is a bill that brought people to the table -- Republicans and Democrats, doctors and patient advocates, health insurance companies, labor unions, and others.
Write to your Senators, and ask them to honor the extraordinary career and legacy of Sen. Kennedy by passing his bill, the Affordable Health Choices Act, into law.
As you know, terminal cancer forced him to consider his priorities this year. When he had to choose what issue should be the focus of his last great act in Congress, he chose health care -- the cause of his career. In speech after speech and statement after statement, he made clear to all that this was the year when we needed to make quality, affordable health care a fundamental right for all, and not a privilege for some.
The fruit of his last labors was the Affordable Health Choices Act, a reasoned and responsible piece of legislation to reduce costs, improve quality and expand access to cover millions of Americans who are currently left behind by our broken health care system. As he wrote when his bill was voted out of committee and sent to the Senate floor, health care "is a cause that knows no boundary of party, region, or philosophy. It is a cause that can and should unite us all as Americans. We know, however, that our work is not over – far from it. As we move from our committee room to the Senate floor, we must continue the search for solutions that unite us, so that the great promise of quality affordable health care for all can be fulfilled."
I ask you as a tribute to your friend and colleague, and for the sake of all of us who have lost a great champion and advocate in Sen. Kennedy, to take up his unfinished work, to consider and debate the Affordable Health Choices Act, and to make this the year we secure affordable, quality health care as a fundamental right for every American.