Posted on November 9, 2009

Massa says he can't support health care bill


By Patti Singer
Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat And Chronicle
November 6, 2009

The day before the much-anticipated vote on health care reform in the House of Representatives, Eric Massa, D-Corning, said that the Affordable Health Care for America Act gives too much to the insurance industry, doesn’t do enough to control costs, and he can’t support it.

“At the highest level this bill will enshrine in law the monopolistic powers of the private health insurance industry,” Massa said in a telephone news conference this morning. “There’s no other way to look at it.”

Massa said that the bill “fails to address the fundamental question before the American people, and that is, how do you control the costs of health care?”

Speaking in strong, deliberate tones, Massa said that the bill also does not address ways to incorporate medical malpractice reform or ways to reduce or eliminate waste and fraud. “Since it doesn’t address those cost factors, I do not understand how it will help the American people.” He also reiterated his concerns over the constitutionality of a mandate for people to purchase insurance.

He said that H.R. 3962 may provide more access to insurance in the short-term for some Americans. “But at the end of the day, I believe we put our system in peril for the majority.” Massa said he remains committed to a government role in facilitating greater access to health care.

On Thursday, it was reported that Rep. Chris Lee, R-Clarence, Erie County would vote no, Rep. Dan Maffei, D-DeWitt, Onondaga County, was undecided and Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, would vote for the bill.

Massa said he had spent the past week studying 1,990-page H.R. 3962 ( and was not aware of positions of other Democrats or how his dissenting vote would reflect on the upstate delegation. “I speak for myself. … Everybody loves an independent member of Congress, until you’re independent.”

The freshman congressman also said he would not be swayed by an expected audience on Saturday with President Barack Obama, who has put health care reform atop his domestic agenda. “I have respect for the chief executive, but I don’t work for him. I work for people of the 29th Congressional District.”

This summer, Massa stirred emotions when he said that he would vote against the interest of his district if he felt that what he was doing was helpful. At the time, he was referring to H.R. 3200.

“That’s what leadership is all about,” he said, not going in the direction of “whoever’s yelling at you. If you’re not strong in confidence, you should never get involved in representative democracy.”