As President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders continued twisting arms for votes, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, said calls to her office have been two-to-one in favor of passing the health care reform package.
"We're right on the verge of, I think, making history," Eshoo said today in a conference call with local reporters, calling health care reform "the unfinished business of the American people."
Although some 72 percent of residents of her district already have health insurance, Eshoo said the health package ultimately will save money and generate positive impacts throughout society, "from families to small business to global business to government budgets to individual budgets."
The bill will provide millions in new funding for 21 community health centers in the district, and reduce by $25 million the cost of uncompensated care by local hospitals and health providers, she said.
"For the most part, people (from the district) are pleased with what they have, and they can keep that," she said.
"I have some wealthy people in my district, but they also see what's wrong with the system.
"This is about the middle class, making this affordable, something that they'll always have and that no one can take away from them, and where insurance companies will be made to compete.
"By its very enactment, there will be a promise kept to insure 95 percent of Americans, 32 million of whom are uninsured today. That takes my breath away," she said.
Eshoo said her offices in Palo Alto and Washington have received a combined 1,500 contacts in the past week on the health care legislation, mostly positive.
Citing a Congressional Budget Office analysis issued earlier this week, Eshoo said the package will reduce projected federal deficits by more than $130 billion over the next 10 year and $1.3 trillion over the next 20 years.
By cutting back what she said are excessive costs in the Medicare Advantage program, the bill will be able to spread those savings over ordinary Medicare. Higher taxes for some are justified, she said.
"Is there a need for more revenue in the system? Yes. Is the entire bill being funded with new taxes? No, because there are savings in it and changes being made," she said, citing provisions barring insurers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.
The bill also will allow young adults to stay covered under their parents' policies until age 26.
Eshoo said the bill does not contain everything she wanted, including the so-called "public option" to compete with private plans.
But once a bill is passed, further changes will be attempted, she said.
Noting that past presidents starting with Theodore Roosevelt have sought health-care overhauls, Eshoo said she is savoring the moment.
"I know we're making history," she said.
"We love our history once it's been made. We talk about it, read about it, celebrate it, teach our children about it, do documentaries about it.
"But we don't often appreciate it when we're making history. It's never very easy to do and that's why it's taken the country so long to get there," she said.