Posts Tagged ‘healthcare bill’

Two Powerful Lobbying Organizations Endorse House Healthcare Reform Bill

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

The House of Representatives’ version of healthcare reform received two important endorsements — from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the American Medical Association (AMA).  “I am extraordinarily pleased and grateful to learn that the AARP and the American Medical Association are both supporting the health insurance reform bill that will soon come up to vote in the House of Representatives,” said President Barack Obama.  AARP, whose membership includes 40 million Americans over the age of 50, is “no small endorsement.”

Two Powerful Lobbying Organizations Endorse House Healthcare Reform BillDemocratic leaders in the House worked to resolve several areas of dispute before bringing their 10-year, $1.2 trillion healthcare bill to the floor for a vote.  House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) enjoyed a hard-won victory when the bill was approved by a slim 220 – 215 margin. The bill seeks to bring coverage to millions of uninsured Americans and restrict insurance companies from dropping people with pre-existing conditions.

AARP Senior Policy Advisor John Rother said his group supports the House legislation because it closes the gap in Medicare prescription benefits and limits the amount insurers can charge older workers who are too young for Medicare.  “The bill does improve quality, and it improves access,” Rother said.  “When people hear this message from us, it will have impact.”  The AMA qualified its support of the bill, which the organization’s president, Dr. James Rohack, says is imperfect but merits support.

Despite these powerful endorsements, Conservatives rallied at the Capitol, saying “Kill the bill” and holding signs that read “Waterboard Congress”.

Obama on Healthcare: “Now is the Season for Action”

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

obama_congress_480President Barack Obama’s prime-time speech to a joint session of Congress made a strong case for including a public option,  along with a combination of choices designed to keep the insurance industry in check.  Recalling Theodore Roosevelt’s efforts to reform healthcare during the 1912 election, Obama said “I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last. Well, the time for bickering is over.  The time for games has passed,” Obama said. “Now is the season for action.”

That action includes a provision that protects uninsurable individuals from catastrophic healthcare expenses.  Another proposal is a series of pilot programs that will study how to reform the medical tort process.

Following is a brief summary of the Obama healthcare plan, which has a projected price tag of just under $1 trillion over 10 years (as a point of comparison, the U.S. spends half this in a single year on military spending):

  • Healthcare reform will provide more security and stability to Americans who currently have insurance, and it will provide coverage to those who don’t. It will slow the growth of healthcare costs.
  • Americans who already have health insurance through their employers, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, will see their coverage improve. The plan will make it illegal to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. Insurers will no longer be able to place a cap on the amount of coverage a patient receives. Additionally, insurance companies will be required to cover routine checkups and preventive care like mammograms and colonoscopies.
  • Coverage will be portable (if a person changes jobs or starts a small business) through the creation of an insurance exchange – a marketplace that will provide access to health insurance at competitive prices. The benefit to insurance companies is that the exchange lets them compete for millions of new customers.
  • For Americans who currently lack health insurance, Obama proposed a public option where government-subsidies would be available to make premiums affordable. Individuals would be required to obtain coverage, and their employers would have to contribute. Most Senate Republicans and some Blue Dog Democrats oppose this proposal, while Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said that the House’s version of the healthcare bill will include a public option.

Obama’s flexibility may not please the more liberal members of Congress, but reflects the political reality that exists on Capitol Hill.

RIP: The Senate’s Liberal Lion and Healthcare Reform Champion

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

ted-kennedy-dies-001Ted Kennedy’s passing deprives President Obama of a critical political ally in his efforts to reform healthcare.  In his role as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions committee, Kennedy fought tirelessly for decades to reform a system that today deprives 47 million Americans of affordable, accessible healthcare coverage.

In The Guardian, Michael Tomasky notes that, “The heavens somehow conspired to make this Kennedy death, however expected it might have been, nearly as heartbreaking as those of his vigorous younger brothers.  It’s not just that the great cause of the last 40 years of his life, reforming America’s healthcare system, sits at a perilous juncture, although it certainly is that, in part.  But the tragic irony of the timing is even greater, because we see in the very healthcare debate that so needed his input the precarious state of the institution to which he devoted his life, and which he shaped and influenced more than probably any other senator in history.”

Kennedy, writing in the July 27, 2009, Newsweek, declared that healthcare reform is “the cause of my life”. “In 1973, when I was first fighting in the Senate for universal coverage, we learned that my 12-year-old son Teddy had bone cancer.  He had to have his right leg amputated above the knee.  The pathology report showed that some of the cancer cells were very aggressive.  I decided his best chance for survival was a clinical trial involving massive doses of chemotherapy,” according to Kennedy.

“During those many hours at the hospital, I came to know other parents whose children had been stricken with the same deadly disease.  We all hoped that our child’s life would be saved by this experimental treatment.  Because this was part of a clinical trial, none of us paid for it.  Then the trial was declared a success and terminated before some patients had completed their treatments.  That meant families had to have insurance to cover the rest or pay for them out of pocket.  Our family had the necessary resources as well as excellent insurance coverage.”

Other heartbroken parents were not able to pay for the continued treatment and that made Kennedy realize that “No parent should suffer that torment.  Not in this country.  Not in the richest country in the world.”  So passionate was Kennedy that Americans have access to healthcare that he often paid for others’ treatment out of his own pocket when they could not afford it.

Kennedy made healthcare reform his lifelong passion, vowing “We will end the disgrace of America as the only major industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t guarantee healthcare for all of its people.”

Wherever you stand on the issue, there is no doubt that Kennedy was a great senator, a statesman that Republicans and Democrats respected and emulated.  He did not live to see the healthcare bill passed, but perhaps his death will quell partisan dissension and bring us closer to a solution.