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Congressman Bonior:
'Keep D.C. General Open'

Hon. David E. Bonior of Michigan, in the House of Representatives, on May 17, 2001, called on his colleagues to rescind the D.C. Financial Control Board's shut-down of D.C. General Hospital.

Mr. Bonior. Mr. Speaker, we, as a nation, spend more on health care than any other country in the world. Yet, we have 43 million uninsured people and our working families continue to struggle to obtain quality and affordable care. And now, in our nation's capital, there are efforts to close down the last remaining public hospital in the city, D.C. General. The closure of public hospitals around our nation and D.C. General, in particular, should be of concern to us all.

In Michigan, our public hospitals continue to serve patients and communities with dignity and with the belief that all people have the right to health care. These public hospitals provide our uninsured and underinsured working men and women with the quality and essential health care they deserve. D.C. General has been serving the people of Washington, D.C. since 1806, and the care it provides is crucial for residents of the nation's capital.

I am deeply concerned with the impact the closure of this hospital will have on the residents of Washington, D.C. In Detroit and other urban and rural communities, affordable and reliable health care is becoming hard to find. Our public hospitals serve local communities without prejudice and are the only source of care millions in this nation can rely on. Now, the people of Washington, D.C. will have no choice but to turn to private hospitals for their health care--hospitals that base their care on a person's financial status and ability to pay.

Those who advocate closing D.C. General are concerned that the hospital has woefully inadequate funds to operate. The financial situation of this and other public hospitals is severely impacted by Congress' unwillingness to provide additional resources and the fact our public hospitals serve most of our uninsured and poor. The plight of D.C. General is just one example of what will happen if we do not stand up immediately and support our public hospitals.

I am also deeply troubled by the process that determined the fate of D.C. General Hospital. Through the use of an unelected financial control board, those wishing to see the hospital closed overrode the democratically elected D.C. City Council, who unanimously opposed the closure of the hospital. In 1999, a similar situation occurred in Detroit, when Lansing lawmakers dissolved the elected city school board and appointed a supervisory board, unaccountable to the citizens of Detroit. The Detroit school takeover and the D.C. control board's actions should be of concern to all Americans. Both these actions denied citizens a voice in the decisions affecting their lives. Our compassion and resolve to ensure quality health care and education for all must not be compromised by an unelected body which is accountable to no one.

Today, I join many of my colleagues in Congress, community leaders in my home state and from around our great nation, and champions in the Michigan State Legislature in urging that D.C. General be kept open and accessible to the people of Washington, D.C.

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