I feel great, knowing that passage of the health care reform bill is virtually assured in the House. All the work and money millions of people put into electing Obama and a solid Democratic majority is paying off for the American people.
It's a big moment, just as the passage of Social Security and Civil Rights legislation was. Soon the United States will be well on the road to assuring that everyone is able to get high quality needed medical care at a reasonable cost.
Political junkie that I am, around 1:00 pm I sat outside a grocery store here in Salem for ten minutes or so, listening to CNN on satellite radio. I wanted to hear Rep. Bart Stupak's press conference.
Stupak is an avid anti-abortion Democrat. He represents several other House members who weren't happy with the abortion related language in the Senate bill, which can't be changed by reconciliation.
It's hard to understand what Stupak and company were so upset about. The House and Senate bills take a similar stand on prohibiting federal funding of abortion. And Catholic hospitals are happy with the Senate language.
Now that President Obama has agreed to issue an executive order confirming that current federal policy (Hyde amendment) won't change, Stupak says he will vote yes for health care reform.
It was moving to hear Stupak and other anti-abortion Democrats speak. They made a lot of sense when they pointed out how "pro life" the health care bill is.
Millions of women and children currently don't have health insurance and suffer the consequences: disease, disability, death. Lack of adequate prenatal care causes many babies to be "aborted" through miscarriage, or otherwise have problems reaching a healthy full-term development.
Right away, after Obama signs the final bill, Americans will benefit in important ways:
Insurance companies will be barred from dropping people from coverage when they get sick.
Lifetime coverage limits will be eliminated and annual limits are to be restricted.Insurers will be barred from excluding children for coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
Young adults will be able to stay on their parents' health plans until the age of 26. Many health plans currently drop dependents from coverage when they turn 19 or finish college.
Uninsured adults with pre-existing conditions will be able to obtain health coverage through a new program that will expire once new insurance exchanges begin operating in 2014.
A temporary reinsurance program is created to help companies maintain health coverage for early retirees between the ages of 55 and 64. This also expires in 2014.
Medicare drug beneficiaries who fall into the "doughnut hole" coverage gap will get a $250 rebate. The bill eventually closes that gap which currently begins after $2,700 is spent on drugs. Coverage starts again after $6,154 is spent.
A tax credit becomes available for some small businesses to help provide coverage for workers.
And in a few years other provisions will take effect -- bringing health insurance to at least thirty million Americans, saving tens of thousands of lives.
So yes, progressives -- and everyone else who has supported health insurance reform -- should be proud today.
Every month of every year we suffer the equivalent of a 9/11 attack: over 3,000 Americans die because they don't have health insurance.
But not for much longer. Which is why it's such a great day.