Senate Passes Health Care Bill
From Senator Debbie Stabenow;
Nearly 100 years in the making, today the Senate passed comprehensive health care reform by a vote of 60-39. While this bill isn't everything I wanted it to be, it is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that saves lives, saves money, and saves Medicare.
When I first came to the U.S. Senate in 2001, we tried to pass a comprehensive Patient's Bill of Rights, but our efforts were blocked. The bill we passed this morning includes those protections - a "health care bill of rights" that stops insurance company abuses and discrimination. They will no longer be able to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, or drop you if you get sick. They also will no longer be able to charge higher rates because of your gender or your occupation, as well as many other protections.
The bill also makes insurance more affordable for American families. Health insurance reform will lower health costs with reforms to improve care coordination, reduce medical errors, and encourage more efficient health plans. Lower health care costs mean more money to invest in businesses, allowing employers to give workers more in take-home wages. It also includes special assistance for small businesses, many of whom are struggling with skyrocketing health insurance rates. This bill creates new tax credits for small businesses to help them pay for the cost of health insurance for their employees. It also provides tax cuts to individuals and families up to 400% of poverty to help them buy health insurance.
It also saves the country money, by reducing the federal deficit and reducing the growth in federal spending on health care.
Finally, this bill saves Medicare. It closes the "doughnut hole" in prescription drug coverage, provides free preventive care for Medicare beneficiaries, and changes the way we pay for health care to reward quality of care, rather than the quantity of tests and procedures. According to non-partisan budget officials, this bill will extend the life of the Medicare trust fund for years to come.
I have posted more details about this plan on my website, at http://stabenow.senate.gov/
This has been a long and difficult fight, and while we didn't win every battle, the bill we passed this morning accomplishes the important goals we laid out at the beginning of this debate. It stops unfair practices by insurance companies. It strengthens and protects Medicare for years to come. And it makes health care more affordable for families and small businesses.
The health care fight is far from over. But today we have made extremely important progress on one of the most difficult issues facing our country - an issue that has led to rising costs for our families and businesses and has cost us so many American jobs.
As we continue this work, and in our efforts early next year to continue to address the jobs crisis, I will remain laser-focused on saving and creating jobs in Michigan. As always, please continue to keep me informed about issues of concern to you and your family.