How sweet it is
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the most comprehensive health care bill since Medicare last night–a bill that provides health care coverage to 32 million more Americans, ends decades of unjust health insurance practices that discriminate against those who get sick, and curbs runaway health care costs.
The President is expected to sign the bill tomorrow, and the Senate will begin debate then on a series of fixes to the bill. There is–as always–more work to be done.
But today we thank the Representatives who crafted the bill, who stood in support of reform and took the votes, all their “punk staffers” who have worked without weekends and sleep for the better part of a year (and some for much longer), and all of the reform advocates for their tremendous, sometimes Atlas-like work in helping to pass this bill.
(Here is Community Catalyst’s official statement, and what you need to know about reform right now. And if you don’t follow the Hub on Twitter yet, get on board before the Senate debate begins.)
When it comes to reflecting on What This Means — in history, yes, but also in plain English — there are few who said it better than Michigan Rep. John Dingell, who’s father, John Dingell Sr., gaveled in Medicare in 1965 (and who lent that historic gavel to Speaker Pelosi for the vote last night.) Here’s what he said after the vote last night:
I gotta tell you, the air has been redolent with falsehoods and deceit. And Madame Speaker persisted clear through this, and my colleagues stuck. And nobody ran when the heat got high.
And I want you to know I am very proud of this leadership and of my colleagues, and of a lot of new members who made some very hard and difficult votes, for which they can be proud, and for which they will be rewarded with re-election, because they showed courage and wisdom. And they did something that was very important.
But dear friends, there’s something else. Now when Americans lose their jobs, now when Americans go to bed, they won’t have to worry when they get up the next morning: Are they going to have health insurance?
We have established a basic principle now–finally–in a bill that is going to the President to be signed–that says health, and good health, and health insurance, and health care, are not a matter of privilege for the privileged few, but rather they should be for everyone.
And the government has finally decided we’re going to take care of that.
–Kate Petersen, Health Policy Hub