Weekly Democratic Address
June 30, 2017
Hi, everyone. I’m Congressman Joe Kennedy from Massachusetts.
Five years ago, I got the call that everyone dreads. My wife Lauren had collapsed at work. She was being rushed to the emergency room of a Boston hospital.
It’s a moment painfully familiar to many. Time stops. You fight to push your breath down your throat. Your brain gets stuck on a highlight reel of worst-case scenarios. You are dazed. You are sick. And you are terrified.
We were among the lucky ones. Lauren was OK. Testing revealed no life-threatening disease or impending danger, no worst nightmare confirmed. Most critically, our health coverage gave us the support we needed to focus on the one thing that mattered most: her recovery.
For any family, that is what health care is about. Not buzzwords like CBO scores or growth rates or high-risk pools, but the simple ability to keep the people you love safe and healthy and whole. A commitment that we make to care for each other, because we know that someday we will need that care, too.
Trumpcare shatters this proudly American commitment. It fundamentally restructures our country’s health care into two systems – one, for the powerful and privileged, the healthy and wealthy; and another, lesser system for everyone else.
It threatens to trap the vast majority of working Americans in a series of excruciating, impossible choices. Mortgage or medication. Child care or doctor visits. Being by your loved one’s hospital bed or keeping your job.
Speaker Ryan calls this freedom; I call it agony. President Trump calls it greatness; I call it gutless.
That’s what this bill does. But here’s what this bill means.
It means that the biggest, strongest, boldest nation in the world doesn’t think that its people can summon the strength to shoulder a neighbor’s burden. It means that in your moment of deepest need, your government will tell you you’re better off on your own than with 320 million Americans fighting by your side.
But this country knows better. This country is better.
We take care of each other. We pull for each other. We accept the responsibility that comes from citizenship with pride and with gratitude.
Because it doesn’t matter how big or tough or rich or brave you are – you cannot be invincible. Our health is our great equalizer. That stubborn reminder that even the mighty need mercy; that any one of us can fall, and every one of us will.
And in those moments, it is not your bank account or your job title, your skin color, your zip code, your religion, your sexuality or your gender that matters.
It is your humanity. It is your hurt and your fear. It is the fact that you are on the ground and you deserve a country that will pick you up, not leave you to fight alone.
That belief underscores the Democratic vision of American health care: a shared promise, a common bond that we fortify not just out of sympathy for the suffering, but so that it is there for us, too, when we need its sturdy brace.
Because if it was our son or daughter or mother or father in that hospital room, we would beg for the strength and shoulders of our neighbors. We would pray for a system that refused to let us fall.
In the weeks ahead, keep your heads raised. Keep your voices loud. Help us tell the story of a better, fairer, stronger country. And if you do, we will make it so.
Thank you, and God bless America.