(CNN) - Rep. Bart Stupak, who announced his retirement earlier today, sent the following letter to his constituents on Friday.
Read the letter after the jump:
For the last 18 years, I have had the great honor of representing you in the United States Congress. I also have the distinct honor of serving as your Congressman longer than any other member in modern times – longer than Bob Davis, Phil Ruppe, or John Bennett.
Together, we have accomplished great things for the First District.
Many of you may remember that when I first ran for Congress in 1992, I pledged to work every day to make affordable, quality health care a right, not a privilege, for all Americans. I promised you that I would not accept the insurance that Members of Congress receive until all Americans could have access to that same quality of care. For the last 18 years, I have kept that promise.
Since the day I took office, I have fought – with you at my side - to improve the quality and accessibility of health care for people throughout Northern Michigan. We’ve made significant progress.
Eleven new Community Based Outpatient Veterans Clinics have been opened to provide our veterans with the care they need and deserve. Broadband access for Northern Michigan hospitals serves as a model for the country of how to improve the quality and efficiency of care and lower costs in rural areas. We’ve improved emergency rooms across this district and provided updated diagnostic technologies to better provide preventive care.
Last month, we finally accomplished what I set out to do 18 years ago – we passed comprehensive national health care reform.
I’m proud to have helped bring it across the finish line for an important reason – it will significantly improve the health and prosperity of our Michigan families.
32 million more Americans, including 38,000 people living in Northern Michigan, will now have health insurance.
More than 197,000 in Northern Michigan will see their costs lowered, and all families will receive important consumer protections so that they no longer have to live in fear of being one illness or injury away from bankruptcy.
Our children will no longer be denied care because of a preexisting condition. Our seniors will be able to afford their prescription drugs. And, our small businesses
will receive new tax credits to help make employee coverage more affordable.
These are real reforms that will make a real difference in your lives.
As you know, for the last several years, I have considered retiring from Congress – to spend more time with my family, and to consider new chapters in my life.
I have spent more than 30 years in public service – as a police officer in Escanaba, a Michigan State Police Trooper, a State Representative and now a United States Congressman. My service to the people of Michigan has been the greatest honor of my life.
But this year, after all that we’ve accomplished, I have decided to begin that new chapter. I will not seek reelection this November.
Being a legislator has been an important part of my career. However, the thing I am most proud of over the past 18 years is helping you, my friends, my neighbors, and my constituents. Whether it was cutting through red tape to secure veterans or social security benefits, obtaining funding to weatherize homes, or securing medals for a service member who valiantly served our country, my staff and I always understood that we worked for you – the people of the First District.
I want to thank you - the people of Northern Michigan - for putting your faith in me. For 18 years, I have enjoyed traveling this district – from Keweenaw Bay – to Grand Traverse Bay – to Saginaw Bay – and all points in between – to hear your concerns and share in your joys and disappointments.
But, now it is time for me to spend a little more time with my wife of 36 years, Laurie, whose love and commitment has sustained me through the years, with my son, Ken, and his family and with my extended family and friends.