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My dear friends, this is an opportunity that will be rare for us in our legislative experience... when you go home tonight and you close your eyes and you sleep and you ask, "What have I done today to lighten the burden upon those who suffer,” at least you could say, "I helped a little bit today; I voted to help those who needed help.”
-Claude Pepper, floor statement
THE PEPPER COMMISSION
U.S. Bipartisan Commission on Comprehensive Health Care
SENATOR JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West Virginia, Chairman
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
FORTNEY PETE STARK, California, Vice Chairman MAX BAUCUS, Montana, Vice Chairman
MARY ROSE OAKAR, Ohio
LOUIS STOKES, Ohio
THOMAS TAUKE, Iowa
HENRY WAXMAN, California
DAVE DURENBERGER, Minnesota, Vice Chairman
EDWARD M. KENNEDY, Massachusetts
DAVID PRYOR, Arkansas
In P.L. 100-360 the Congress called upon the Pepper Commission to recommend legislation that would ensure all Americans coverage for health care and long-term care. With this report, the Commission fulfills that charge and calls upon you- our colleagues in the Congress, the President, and the American people-to turn its recommendations into law.
The Commission's intensive efforts to develop recommendations have not been an academic exercise. This report presents a workable plan of action to address the rapidly growing crisis in health and long-term care. To agree on that plan, Commission members have had to make hard choices and compromise strongly held positions. Members who believed action was critical refused to allow their personal vision of the best to become the enemy of the good.
In health care, a workable plan means we have no choice but to build universal coverage by reforming and extending the job-based and public coverage we now have to make it work well for all Americans. In long-term care it means we must establish priorities to build the protection we now lack. And in both areas, we must build deliberately, a step at a time, to allow all parties to adjust and to ensure a sound and stable structure.
Some will say that it is naive to pursue even such worthwhile social investments in the current fiscal environment. But there will never be a day when the answers become easy or cheap. There will never be a day when all of us can have our first choice or ideal solution. There will never be a day when some of us will not have to make some sacrifices to achieve what is best for all of us.
As the nation's political leaders, we face a choice: we can continue to duck our heads and hope this issue will not bring the nation to its knees, or we can use the Commission recommendations as the rallying point for the political consensus that can make universal