Last night, the House passed the reconciliation bill after the Senate's modifications. With this action, the legislative process for healthcare reform is complete. This bill will be forwarded to the President's desk for signature, and means that healthcare is now law. The House's fixes to the Senate bill include improving the affordability provisions for lower income families, and repealing some of the more egregious special deals put into the bill during Senate negotiations.
Prohibitions against health insurance companies denying care for children due to pre-existing conditions go into effect immediately. Health insurance reforms start to take meaningful effect in 6 months with increasing protections over the next 4 years.
This bill is far from what I might have hoped for. It essentially props up the private insurance market, although it does make the market less predatory towards individuals and more accountable for their actions. This law extends healthcare insurance to 32 million uninsured people once it takes full effect.
Most importantly, this bill addresses the issue of whether healthcare is a right or a privilege. As a nation, we have now moved forward and determined that it is a reasonable and appropriate goal for healthcare to be available for all. This law is an imperfect vehicle for bringing this to pass, but it has been accomplished just the same.
So--after more than a year of effort and a century of hope, the country to move forward.
Now, our work is to help make this bill life up to its intent and anticipated benefit.