After helping pass a hard-fought health care reform bill Saturday evening, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo flew in from Washington to give her pitch for the bill to the Mountain View City Council during a Monday afternoon "general legislative update."
Local officials joined media and other representatives at Michaels at Shoreline to hear Eshoo discuss the bill, which she said "broke the stranglehold of history."
"From Teddy Roosevelt on, seven presidents have tried" to reform health care, she said.
Eshoo said she was proud to have helped shape the Affordable Health Care for America Act as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which wrote the largest piece of the bill.
She said the bill, which still must pass through the Senate, has major benefits for the unemployed, seniors, small businesses and people aged 26 and under. Furthermore, she said, hospitals in the 14th Congressional District — Eshoo's district, which includes Mountain View — would save $46 million annually in medical costs which are currently not covered.
"Anyone who loses their job will not lose their health insurance," Eshoo said.
Though there will be new public health insurance options, those who like the private insurance they have now can keep it, she said.
The bill gradually lowers Medicare prescription drug costs for seniors, who currently spend, on average, "out of pocket $2,500 to $2,800 a year" for health-related expenses. As for young people, they could remain on their parents' insurance plans until age 27, which she said "makes a lot of sense."
Eshoo estimates that only 72 percent of her 461,000 constituents have health insurance, while about 8,000 have pre-existing conditions preventing them from getting private insurance. Under the Affordable Health Care for America Act, she said, all of them would have access to "affordable" health care.
Businesses with payrolls under $500,000 are exempt from having to provide health insurance under the plan, but for those that chose to do so "there are tremendous benefits," Eshoo said, including big tax refunds for some.
She added that "We shaped this bill so it would not add a dime to the deficit."
Meanwhile, she said, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have "extracted so much from our society."
"Two wars — not one dime of that was paid for," she said. "Imagine that."
Summaries and fact sheets about the health care bill are available at eshoo.house.gov.
Cash for Hangar
On a different topic Monday night, Eshoo said Hangar One may need money from Congress, and that she's willing to ask for it.
With NASA Ames and the Navy in a deadlock over how to pay for the restoration of the historic structure at Moffett Field, Eshoo said she is ready to ask Congress to appropriate funding if necessary.
"I will pursue that, absolutely," she said.
The White House Office of Management and Budget is currently trying to broker a deal between NASA and the Navy to share the costs of re-skinning the hangar and cleaning up Moffett Field. NASA Ames now owns the hangar but does not have the funds to restore it for re-use, while the Navy is responsible for cleaning up the toxics in its laminate siding. A temporary coating over the siding is starting to wear off.
"I have contacted the OMB and I will be on them like white on rice," Eshoo said.
Eshoo said she is confident that President Obama's Navy secretary will work to preserve the hangar, even though the Navy has already signed a contract to remove its toxic siding, with no plan to re-cover the steel structure.
"It can't be de-skinned and left there like a freak of nature," she said. "We have to have a plan."