Heath Care Bill Passes House
After nearly 100 years of work, Congresswoman Maxine Waters cast deciding vote
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Staff Writer The House of Representatives passed the historic Health Care Reform Bill that reforms the nation's health insurance system.Â
The Democratic measure passes 220 to 215, with the deciding vote cast by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35).Â The legislation required 218 votes to pass the House of Representatives, and Congresswoman Waters was the 218th vote for the bill.Â
"Ultimately, after thorough consideration of the legislation, I decided to cast the deciding 218the vote to pass H.R. 3962 because of the benefits it provides for my constituents," Congresswoman Waters said.Â "And because it will extend coverage to 36 million more Americans who currently lack health insurance, either because they were turned down or they can't afford it."Â
This health plan would cover an additional 36 million people by 2019. Leaving only 4% of the nation without coverage, compared to the 17% without coverage now.Â
Efforts to provide health insurance coverage to all Americans have been made since the Depression.Â In 1912 President Teddy Roosevelt proposed a plan that would cover all Americans, and Presidents following him have also supported this objective.
"Today, one chamber of Congress has passed meaningful health insurance reform after a century of trying," Congresswoman Diane E. Watson said.Â "After nearly 100 hours of committee hearings, 3,000 town halls and events nationwide, and 239 considered amendments, we have passed a bill that is critical to securing the future economic prosperity of our country and the American middle class."
President Barak Obama hailed the vote in a statement, saying, "Thanks to the hard work of the House, we are just two steps away from achieving health insurance reform in America.Â Now the United States Senate must follow suit and pass its version of legislation.Â I am absolutely confined it will, and I look forward to signing comprehensive health insurance reform into law by the end of the year."
This bill means several different things.
If you have insurance, it keeps your insurance company from denying you care or coverage, or charging you more because of diabetes, heart disease or any other pre-existing conditions.Â You will not lose your coverage if you lose your job or change jobs.Â It prevents insurance companies from dropping you because you get too sick, and it limits out of pocket expenses that your insurance company can make you pay.
If you do not have insurance, this bill lets you comparison shop for quality, affordable health plans.Â It offers you low group rates even for individual coverage.Â It helps lower your premiums with affordability credit for those who need help paying, and it prevents any insurance company from denying you coverage for heart disease, diabetes or another preexisting condition.Â Â Â
For seniors this bill strengthens Medicare, extending its solvency for years to come.Â Improves access to your doctor.Â Lowers Medicare drug prices by beginning to close the coverage gap.Â It reduces inefficiencies and program costs to help Medicare remain solvent without cutting benefits, and it improves coordination and increases the quality of care for seniors with diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic conditions.Â
This bill will also improve employer-based coverage for 304,000 residents.Â Provide credits for up to 173,000 households to help pay for coverage.Â Improve Medicare for 75,000 beneficiaries and allow 16,300 small businesses to obtain affordable health care coverage and provide tax credits to help reduce health insurance costs for up to 15,100 small businesses.
However, Congresswoman Waters was disappointed that an amendment was passed denying women the opportunity to exercise their full reproductive freedoms.Â She fears that the Stupak amendment will hurt poor women the most, as they will likely be unable to afford supplemental coverage if they need an abortion.Â There is no guarantee that an insurer will even provide coverage for abortion services at all, let alone at a price that is affordable.Â Â Â