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Ackerman Speaks for Health Care

“It’s been one heck of a year,” said U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman, as he spoke at his annual holiday party just days before the Senate passed the health-care bill. Addressing a gathering of friends and family, and a whole host of local elected officials, Congressman Ackerman called for universal health care, even if the system was not perfect. His goal was to see at least a start in the right direction.

The congressman noted that last year at this time was a time of “great expectations” and a “tremendous opportunity.” For the Democrats, Congressman said, that had been a time of excitement and hope for the presidency, for the House, and for the Senate. “There was the opportunity to get all of our agenda through, but it hasn’t happened yet … and there is some tremendous disappointment,” he said.

Congressman Ackerman went on to say that, despite the disappointments, “we should be the best we can be and not set the bar so high.” He did, however, encourage everyone to “keep trying … and make progress.”

And trying is what the congressman encourages in all fields, and that evening he pressed on about encouraging legislators, and the president, to keep trying to pass health-care legislation. Congressman Ackerman said that many in the House and in the Senate, “many friends,” said they could not vote for the health-care bill because of the changes. “But you can’t get everything you want in life … at some point we must accept that this is the best we can do,” the congressman stated. He said that there is so much included that it is counter-productive to vote against the legislation just because not everything we would want is in the law.

Congressman Ackerman spoke strongly in favor of as strong, as comprehensive, as inclusive universal health care as possible, even though some concessions would be necessary. And, as he had in an interview with the Great Neck Record a few months ago, the congressman emphasized that we all already pay for uninsured Americans through emergency room fees.

“If we like some of what’s in the bill, how can we not vote for it,” the congressman asked the large group. “How can we not vote to make things better place?” And, Congressman Ackerman added, “We had to sacrifice to get to a better place … we had to accommodate each other to come up with enough votes to do something.”

Congressman Ackerman also noted that everything cannot come at once: “It’s incremental … we can’t do the whole thing all at once ... we must set goals and keep trying … and we’re a heck of a lot better than we were last year.” And, so, at this time, “the prize is progress and we shouldn’t lose sight of this.”

Congressman Ackerman is pleased that they are still “trying to improve the lives of as many people as we can … and let’s keep pushing.” And this, he said, “is how we measure our civilization … we’re doing better and we keep going for more.”

Touching briefly on Afghanistan, Congressman Ackerman said that “one of the great challenges of the new year” would be the “complicated issues” surrounding this area and the troop increase. The congressman said that he has no solution, but before the increase was announced he would have wanted to be sure there was “value” in doing so. He said that he has not made up his mind as yet, but “will continue to listen.” And he asked his audience of friends and colleagues for their “help and support.”