[Cross-posted at DailyKos]
March 21, 2010. Remember that date because it’s going to be an important one. If everything goes according to plan, tomorrow the US House of Representatives will approve H.R. 4872 (“The Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010″). A section-by-section summary of the bill is provided here.
After President Obama signs this bill into law…
- by 2014 it will no longer be possible for insurance companies to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions (and for children, that rule goes into effect six months after the bill is signed).
- within six months, insurance companies will be prohibited from rescission – dropping people simply because they represent too great a risk.
- annual limits will be restricted within six months and done away with entirely by 2014.
- the federal government will fund community health centers, providing basic health and dental care to needy people, to the tune of $11 billion over the next five years.
- perhaps most importantly, this law will help make health care affordable by subsidizing premiums and other costs for millions of Americans with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level.
This has been a long, hard struggle lasting over a year. Public approval of Congress is at an all time low. Many people, including some of his strongest supporters, have written off President Obama as ineffective, out of touch, or worse. A less principled leader might have cashed in his chips by now and moved on to another battle. But President Obama hasn’t given up. And isn’t that why we put him there? Didn’t we want someone who would fight for us and fix our broken health care system?
If this bill passes tomorrow, the entire narrative about Obama and this congress is going to change. The resulting political gamesmanship is going to be interesting to watch, but underneath it all, there’s a more important story: in 2009, we the people, did something which led directly to the most sweeping health care reform in the history of our nation. When this bill is passed and subsequently signed into law, we will have accomplished precisely what we set out to do last year — we will have improved the lives of all Americans.
I think it’s going to be a pretty good day.