A Snow Day In Washington
In 1945, President Harry Truman called on congress ""to assure the right to adequate medical care and protection from the economic fears of sickness." In 1994, President Bill Clinton stood before congress and demanded the same. On Tuesday October 13, 2009 this goal became closer to being attained than it has been ever before.
That Tuesday afternoon, the Senate Finance Committee voted 14-9 to move the final health care reform bill through the conservative panel. This bill comes in at under $900 billion dollars over ten years, being the least munificent in terms of providing for working and middle class Americans to afford health insurance. Yet, the bill will be the foundation to propel the reorganization of our nations health care and insurance policies Democrats hope to build an improved reform package with the support of the GOP, which currently is an insignificant amount.
Republican senator from Maine, Olympia Snowe, was the sole Republican to support the reform bill, she stated, "People do have concerns about what we will do with reform. But at the same time, they want us to continue working... That is what my vote to report this bill out of committee here today represents. It's to continue working the process."
Now that the bill has officially moved through the panel, it will now work its way to the Capitol. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Senate leaders will gather together and merge the finance bill with a bill from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, known as the HELP Committee bill.
The two bills do have their discrepancies, most notably the HELP bill includes a government-run plan and provisions that allow insurance companies to charge senior Americans more in premiums based on their age.
The stubbornness of Republican Party continues to stay strong, despite Snowe's vote. In both instances with Truman and Clinton, the GOP had taken control of congress in the terms following, and each time the bill faded into oblivion.
It isn't looking like that will be the case this time around. President Obama has made it clear that the new finance bill "is obviously another step forward in bringing about a better deal for the American people." Obama sang his praises for Senator Snowe, and cast her as an example of bipartisanship: "Sen. Snowe has been extraordinary diligent in working together so that we can reduce costs of health care, make sure that people who don't have it are covered, make sure that people who do have insurance have more security and stability, and that over the long term we're saving families, businesses and our government money."
All seems as if it is moving in the right direction toward beneficial health care reform, the health insurance industry announced on Monday that this bill will be the catalyst for the raise in health insurance premiums. This is a serious indicator that we are on the right track in this current battle.
Democratic leaders of the Senate will have to decide the provisions that will make it into the new Senate bill. Once the provisions are made, the Senate will change and debate it further in the coming months.
The bill may not be everything it can be currently, but progress is continuing to be made. In the words of Senator Snowe, "When history calls, history calls, and I happen to think that the consequences of inaction dictate the urgency of Congress to take every opportunity to demonstrate its capacity to solve the monumental issues of our time."