The Long-Awaited Senate Health Reform Bill

November 20, 2009
by Meredith Dodson, Director of RESULTS U.S. Poverty Campaigns

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) released his version of health reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. There’s lots of good news here, especially for low-income Americans (our focus in this debate) — Reid’s bill expands Medicaid to all persons at or below 133 percent of the poverty line and prioritizes of funding for community health centers (CHC) along the lines of Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill will cost $849 billion over ten years and reduce the federal deficit by $127 billion the first ten years. It is expected to provide 31 million uninsured persons with health coverage through Medicaid and private health coverage, thus covering 94 percent of Americans (the House bill is estimated to cover 36 million).

RESULTS applauds the Senate in drafting a bill that will cover millions of uninsured, protect all Americans with market reforms, and will reduce the federal deficit both in the short and long term. And please know that you all helped the Senate get to this point. Your tireless efforts this year have pushed lawmakers closer to enacting meaningful reform than in decades. However, as expected, the Senate bill is not as strong as the House bill in key areas and we’ll work hard to get the best possible bill, especially for society’s most vulnerable, on the president’s desk. We breakdown the Senate proposal as compared to the House bill on our Recent Developments in Health Reform page.

However, the Senate must first begin debate. The Senate is expected to vote on a Motion to Proceed with tomorrow (Saturday) at 8 pm. 60 votes will be needed to pass the motion and allow debate to begin. If the motion fails, health reform will stall. Therefore, we must see that this first of several procedural hurdles in the Senate is overcome.

TAKE ACTION: Please call your Senators and urge them to vote YES on the Motion to Proceed on the Senate health bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act. You can call toll-free at (888) 797-8717 to get connected to the Capitol switchboard. Even if your senator(s) supports meaningful health reform, call and thank them for their support, urge them to vote YES, and also urge them to urge their Senate colleagues to vote YES. We cannot let health reform stall before debate even begins.

If you or your friends are located in Arkansas, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, or Nebraska, please urge them to call senators ASAP urging a YES vote on the Motion to Proceed. Senators in these states have not fully committed to allowing health reform to move forward.

We’ll have more details for you in next week’s Weekly Update. And, thank you to Faithful Reform and Health Care for use of their toll-free number.

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