To make a difference
tanks have been extremely supportive.
Obviously, we made a strategic decision in hiring a
chief of staff, Mini Timmaraju, who clearly understands the Indian community and has worked
extensively on the US-India relationship.
So, it seems as if you are reaching out at all levels in
terms of making yourself much more well versed in
some of the issues and concerns, both community-wise as well as the foreign policy outlook is concerned.
And again, it’s taking advantage of the wealth of
knowledge within these think tanks, the wealth of
knowledge within the Committee of Foreign Affairs.
Chairman Royce is a strong believer in the US-India Strategic Relationship. So, it’s a case of strategically inserting myself where I can be of value.
In several interviews with you during your first
campaign and second campaign, and even on the eve
of the election, when we discussed your take on
Obamacare, you indicated that you had not wholeheartedly embraced this Affordable Health Care Act
and had argued that there are areas it needed to be
Can you speak about that, now that you are an
elected member of Congress?
How do you hope to be part of that tweaking?
As a physician, who is a health-care expert and
who has spent most of my adult life working on
these issues, clearly I am going to add value to the
conversation. Still the number one issue we have to
be talking about is the cost of health care.
My criticism of the Affordable Care Act was that it
did not do enough to address the cost of health care.
Now that the issue is settled and the Supreme
Court has ruled, let us take the context that is there,
and let’s make this a better piece of legislation.
A specific area would be where we talk about
Medicare in itself, is not broken — it’s a very efficient system, 95 cents on every dollar goes to direct patient care,
puts the patient in charge.
So, what is the issue?
It’s the cost of health care. We have to shift the conversa-
tion from, ‘Hey, we have to fix Medicare’ to ‘We have to
address the cost of health care.’
So, the proposals like some that are being talked about in
terms of raising the eligibility age of Medicare really is the
wrong direction to go — from 65 to 67 — because when you
do that, you don’t actually lower the cost, but actually in
most published reports suggest you will raise the cost of
So, we should be really shifting the conversation to saying
how do we make it more affordable for small business owners, large business owners and individuals, and that’s where
the conversation needs to go now.
Let’s have the courage to address the issues that need to
That’s what we were elected to do, that’s what I was elected to do and that it what I intend to do around this critical
issue of health care in America.
Ami Bera says when he was an intern on Capitol Hill in 1985, he didn’t see anyone who looked like him. So, it excites him now to see the
number of Indian Americans and Asian Americans working on Capitol Hill.
When you lost the first time, what made you decide to run
again? What made you certain that this time you could prevail, notwithstanding that (Dan) Lungren (the longtime
Republican incumbent) was not just so entrenched, but
also had the machinery of the Karl Roves of the world
In 2010, we built a race from scratch. I had never run for
public office before. What came together was one of the
most surprising races in the country.
In fact, a few weeks before that election, The New York
Times was writing about our race — that this may be one
rogue wave that’s going against the Republican tidal wave.
We didn’t win, but on every matrix, we had a tremendous
grass-roots campaign — thousands of people came together to support the race.
And as I was making thank you calls, almost to a t, every-
one of them said, ‘We really want you to run again... you did
a great job… that it was just a very difficult year to be run-
And the most important person, my wife, was the first to
say, ‘You know, Ami, you’ve got to run again.’
So, we took a few months off to reflect and then got right
back into it.
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