After months of debate this year, and decades of gridlock before, our country is closer than ever to passing the single most important piece of domestic legislation since Social Security. This is no small feat. There's a reason that presidents from Truman to Nixon to Clinton have called for, but been unable to achieve, health reform: it's incredibly difficult.
The current legislation in Congress includes many of the protections found in the bipartisan Patient’s Bill of Rights that has been repeatedly defeated by special interests. President Obama addresses that, as well as the broader substance and fierce urgency of health reform, in his latest weekly address. Watch it here:
There are some great elements of this bill that will take some time to set up, such as the new insurance marketplace -- the Exchange -- that allows people without insurance and small businesses to compare plans and buy insurance at competitive prices. But there are a lot of other benefits for families that will kick in during the first year if we get this passed:
- In the first year, we will make it illegal for insurance companies to drop coverage for Americans.
- In the first year, more of your money will start going where it belongs: towards your care instead of excessive insurance company profits or TV ads. We will start forcing insurance companies to report the proportion of premium dollars that are not spent on medical care -- including profits. If a company isn’t spending enough of its premium dollars providing benefits for families, it will have to issue rebate checks to its customers to make up the
- In the first year, all insurance plans will have to begin covering preventive services, helping to shift our health care from just sickness to wellness. If you purchase insurance on your own, you will receive preventive care from your doctor without paying a co-pay.
- In the first year, seniors will see major relief in paying for prescription drugs. The gap in coverage with Medicare, the so-called "donut hole," will start to close for good.
This bill will reduce premiums for your family, shifting the balance of power from your insurance company back to you.
Health reform extends coverage to 30,000,000 Americans without adding a dime to the Federal deficit. In fact, it represents the largest reduction to the deficit in well over a decade.
The final bill hasn't taken shape yet. There are several more steps in the process, and the President is committed to making it the best bill possible to provide security for those who have insurance and affordable, quality coverage for those who don't.
It is important to look past the bickering and cable chatter and remember that we are on the verge of providing real benefits to Americans who can’t wait any longer.
Thanks, and have a great weekend.
Director, White House Office of Health Reform
P.S. Don't miss the video of the President's weekly address. Watch it here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2009/12/18/weekly-address-patients-bill-rights-and-health-reform