Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Gift for America

The US Senate took a giant step toward health care reform this morning. Our Senators, Levin and Stabenow, voted with the rest of the Democratic Caucus to pass a bill that will:
    -- Extend coverage to 31 million Americans, the largest expansion of coverage since the creation of Medicare.

    -- Ensure that we can choose our own doctors.

    -- Finally stop insurance companies from denying coverage due to a pre-existing condition.

    -- Make sure we will never be charged exorbitant premiums on the basis of our age, health, or gender.

    -- Guarantee we will never lose our coverage just because we get sick or injured.

    -- Protect us from outrageous out-of-pocket expenditures by establishing lifetime and annual limits.

    -- Allow young people to stay on their parents' coverage until they're 26 years old.

    -- Create health insurance exchanges, or "one-stop shops" for individuals purchasing insurance, where insurance companies are forced to compete for new customers.

    -- Lower premiums for families, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, especially for struggling folks who will receive subsidies.

    -- Help small businesses provide health care coverage to their employees with tax credits and by allowing them to purchase coverage through the exchanges.

    -- Improve and strengthen Medicare by eliminating waste and fraud (without cutting basic benefits), beginning to close the Medicare Part D donut hole, and extending the life of the Medicare trust fund.

    -- Create jobs by reining in costs -- fostering competition, reducing waste and inefficiency, and starting to reward doctors and hospitals for quality, not quantity, of care.

    -- Cut the deficit by over $130 billion in the next 10 years.
It's a long list. But that's only because this bill represents the most significant health reform our nation has seen since the creation of Medicare.

There's another step to go before health care reform is a reality -- the Senate and House bills must be reconciled. So, as Involved Voters we know what we have to do. We must keep after our Senators and Representatives and let them know we want to see the bills combined in a way that serves the best interests of us all.

Wishing you all the blessings of the season and a happy and healthy 2010.