You may watch the President’s speech here, scheduled to start at 1pm!
For background information on the President’s visit and how reform will help our state, be sure to check out all the latest background policy pieces from our partners at the Iowa Policy Project. The most recent brief, “Health Reform: Iowans to See Benefits” describes the concrete benefits of the Medicaid expansion, small businesses ability to purchase insurance in the Exchange, and the elimination of insurers’ abuses on all Iowans.
Today the Senate should wrap-up debate and vote on the reconciliation package, the last remaining legislation for the current comprehensive health care reform.
However, the bill will need to go back to the House for their vote on it since the Senate made small changes.
This past Sunday night, the House finally passed the Senate health care reform bill and awaits the President’s signature today! The House also passed the “Health Care Affordability and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010” that needs to also be signed by the Senate before going to the President.
This Thursday the President will be in Iowa City to talk about the health reform package.
In the home stretch, and from our partners at Community Catalyst comes a petition for enacting comprehensive national health care reform…
Sign the “Health Care Reform Can’t Wait” Petition – and pass it on!
- Community Catalyst is partnering with PICO, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Families USA, and other national groups to send everyone in Congress the message: “Move forward and pass health care reform. It’s time to act.”
- The sign on deadline is tentatively set for March 16. Please sign the petition and send this link: http://www.healthcarepetition.org/10707_communitycatalyst to your networks, neighbors, friends, and family – across the street or across the country.
Together, we can make sure Members of Congress know their constituents want them to get the job done!
Today, President Obama set the tone for the final work Congress must take in order to pass comprehensive national health care reform! His speech is available to read here.
The President acknowledges the difficult problem of enacting reform in terms of policy- the complicated system of health care now in America lends to many inter-related changes- and politics- utilizing the simple majority vote of reconciliation in the Senate to finally pass the legislation.
In the coming weeks we should see:
- The Senate promise the House to use reconciliation to pass provisions that the House would like,
- The House to then pass the Senate’s version of the bill, and
- The last step, the Senate to use reconciliation as the final step of bringing the bills into one piece of legislation for the President to sign.
Yesterday, President Obama unveiled proposals for national health care reform that expand upon the versions of legislation passed from the House and Senate. The President’s provisions can be seen as his vision for comprehensive reform, and will undoubtedly be a center of debate in the upcoming Health Reform Summit this Thursday.
Among some key provisions related to children and families are:
- The expansion of Medicaid to 133% of the Federal Poverty Level ($29,000 a year for a family of four)
- The preservation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program to 2019, with full funding through 2015
Here is a related summary on the President’s proposal that focuses on Medicaid, CHIP, and low-income provisions. This document is provided by Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families.
In efforts to more easily pass health reform legislation, one strategy recently proposed is for Congress to only pass certain provisions of the current reform bills. Critics of comprehensive health reform are calling for this piecemeal approach as an alternative process, but tweaking only a couple of cogs in the health care system will not do the trick for real reform.
The piecemeal process is destined to fail as a reform measure. For example, if legislation required insurers to cover all individuals regardless of health status without any other reform provisions, we could see what health policy experts call a “death spiral.” As insurers are required to cover everyone regardless of their health status, the average person’s premium, even if they already have health insurance coverage, will likely rise even faster than presently. Insurers will have to cover the costs of insuring the sick and those with chronic conditions, but as premiums rise, healthy individuals would begin to opt out of health insurance, deciding that the high premiums simply are not worth coverage. This would leave insurers with an even unhealthier pool of the sickest and those with the most severe chronic conditions, further increasing these individual’s premiums.
Similarly, requiring all individuals to purchase insurance sounds like a good idea, but in isolation the practice would be impossible. Too many people are unable to qualify for insurance due to pre-existing conditions, and many others are unable to afford insurance because of high premiums as a result of their pre-existing conditions or their moderate income. Without some sort of mechanism to require insurers to cover everyone and assist low- and moderate-income families with purchasing insurance, the individual mandate simply could not work.
Iowans and Americans need comprehensive health reform that takes into account issues like these simultaneously to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, quality health care.