Saturday, October 31, 2009
Contact: Brendan Daly/Nadeam Elshami/Drew Hammill, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C. – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered keynote remarks at the Hep B Free Press Conference in San Francisco. Elected officials and community leaders gathered together to discuss the important work of the Hep B Free campaign at the Chinese Hospital in San Francisco. Below are the Speaker's remarks as prepared:
San Francisco has long been a model for the nation in innovation. It is a source of the latest trends in academia, science, and medicine. It is here that we can find the best hospitals and top doctors, cutting edge research and new advances in medical treatments. It is no coincidence that San Francisco and our Chinese-American community would stand as a model for the fight against Hepatitis B. It is no surprise that the CDC would look to San Francisco for leadership and tout our success as a blueprint for a national campaign. The Hep B Free effort has led thousands to get screened and treated. They’ve taken this campaign’s theme to heart – “Be a Hero” – and seen a doctor who tests for Hepatitis B.
The Hepatitis B Virus is preventable and treatable; yet too many in the Asian American/Pacific Islander community and across the country suffer from this disease. People like Assemblywoman [Fiona] Ma are living proof that we can lead healthy lives with this disease. She would also be the first to remind everyone that a vaccine exists and treatments are available. We must protect ourselves from Hepatitis B.
The Hep B Free campaign hits at the core of our national drive for health insurance reform. Serious health disparities among minority communities represent a critical challenge in the debate over reform. The Hepatitis B virus impacts the Asian American/Pacific Islander community at a higher rate than any other group in the U.S. One in 10 AAPI Americans are chronically infected with Hep B. More than half of the 1.4 million Americans infected are Asian-Pacific Islander Americans. With reform in place, the AAPI community will have access to the treatments, vaccines, screening, and care that will help end health disparities, keep families healthy, and ensure the success of the fight for a Hep B Free city.
Our health insurance reform legislation will: end discrimination for pre-existing conditions – Americans suffering with chronic conditions, like Hep B, face higher costs and less access because they have a “pre-existing condition.” With reform, this will no longer be the case. Emphasize preventive care – new grants to states to provide prevention and wellness services to communities, with a special emphasis on health disparities, expanded coverage for vaccines, eliminates co-pays and deductibles for preventive services, such as the Hepatitis B vaccine and screening. Educate patients – gives individuals and families the tools to make informed decisions about medical care, boosts access to needed treatments, ensures consumers understand the risks and rewards of preventive care and treatments. Ensure comprehensive care – Hepatitis B patients will receive the care and services they need to beat this disease, high-risk populations will have access to preventive treatments, vaccines, and screenings.
We have an opportunity – here in San Francisco and across the country – to change our health insurance system for the better. Whether it’s making this a Hep B Free city or expanding access to quality, affordable medical care for all Americans, every step forward makes a difference. Thank you for joining in this effort.