When I went to Albany on Day One, I went there with the understanding that sometimes I may agree with my colleagues and sometimes I may not.
But I also went to Albany knowing that at the end of the day I am the only state Senator for the 10th Senate District of Queens and it's my responsibility to fight for you, even if that means disagreeing with the governor, the state Legislature, the advocates, special interests or anyone else for that matter.
So when it came to the health care budget and balancing the need to reform New York's health care system with the desire to make certain health care cuts, I put all my energy into doing what I thought was right for you, even if that meant sometimes disagreeing with my colleagues.
For example, the governor's health care reform plan - most of which I support - is based on finally putting people first, but it also called for some cuts to our local hospitals that I felt needed to be restored.
So I did exactly what any good representative of the people should do. I worked with our governor to push through much-needed health care reforms, while ensuring that your interests were put ahead of all other interests.
With the help of Gov. Spitzer and Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm A. Smith, we put patients in our community first by allocating more health care dollars based on the needs of patients. We put our children first by expanding Child Health Plus to families up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, so we can insure nearly all of New York's 400,000 uninsured children, including many who live in our community.
We put our uninsured adults first, now helping an additional 900,000 people obtain and retain Medicaid coverage. We put our sick friends, family members and neighbors first by investing $200 million on disease prevention and primary care that includes treatments for diabetes, obesity, asthma and even cancer. And we put our seniors and disabled first by putting more money into home and community care, while improving programs designed to help our most vulnerable citizens.
I also had to fight to restore some cuts that would have severely impacted our health care facilities such as Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, Parkway Hospital and St. Vincent's Hospital. In my opinion, those cuts would have hurt our local health care services - something I simply could not allow to happen.