Not acting on health insurance reform is not an option. It is not an option for the millions of uninsured Americans, not for the small business owners struggling to offer health insurance benefits to their employees, not for families unable to meet the rising monthly premiums and high deductibles, and not for the seniors with skyrocketing prescription drug costs. Yesterday, President Obama spoke at Arcadia University in Pennsylvania about the urgent need for health care reform and asked Republicans in Congress calling for further delays, “When is the right time? If not now, when? If not us, who?…You had ten years. What happened? What were you doing?“:
Now, since we took this issue on a year ago, there have been plenty of folks in Washington who've said that the politics is just too hard. They've warned us we may not win. They've argued now is not the time for reform…
My question to them is: When is the right time? If not now, when? If not us, who?
Think about it. We’ve been talking about health care for nearly a century. I'm reading a biography of Teddy Roosevelt right now. He was talking about it. Teddy Roosevelt. We have failed to meet this challenge during periods of prosperity and also during periods of decline. Some people say, well, don’t do it right now because the economy is weak. When the economy was strong, we didn't do it. We've talked about it during Democratic administrations and Republican administrations. I got all my Republican colleagues out there saying, well, no, no, no, we want to focus on things like cost. You had 10 years. What happened? What were you doing?
Today, as the health insurance industry lobby group America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) hosts its national conference in Washington, DC and unveiled an ad campaign to kill health insurance reform, American workers, their families and small businesses are facing absurd health insurance premium increases. Just yesterday, Illinois residents discovered they will be paying as much as 60 percent more and today brings news from Virginia, where residents are facing a second round of rate increases in just six months.
In the last 10 years of Republican inaction:
Americans with employer-sponsored insurance have seen their premiums more than double–a rate 3 times faster than wage increases
American small businesses have seen their premiums rise 129%
Our national health care spending increased 90%
8,600,000 more Americans are uninsured–from 38.4 million to 47 million
And if we don't act, in the next 10 years:
Family health insurance premiums are expected to rise an average of $1,800 each year
Small businesses are projected to lose more than $52 billion in profits due to high health costs
National health care spending is estimated to increase (6.2% per year) faster than our economy is expected to grow (4.1% per year) and is expected to exceed one-fifth of the GDP (20.3%) by 2018
61 million Americans are expected to be uninsured
Health reform won't happen overnight as it will take a couple of years to implement some of the reforms in the President's plan, but there are many provisions that will take effect immediately as the President referenced in his weekly address on Saturday. What reform will mean for you right away:
If you get sick, your insurance company can't drop your coverage
If you have a child with a pre-existing condition, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage
You will no longer have lifetime limits or restrictive annual caps on benefits
If you're a small business owner, you'll get a tax credit for purchasing health insurance
You'll have free preventive care in all new private plans
If you're under 26 years old, you can stay on your parents' insurance policy
If you're a senior with high prescription drug costs and fall into the prescription drug “donut hole”, you will receive $250 to help pay for prescriptions (and eventually the donut hole will be eliminated)
If you've been unfairly denied an insurance claim, you will have a new independent appeals process
The United States Congress owes the American people a final, up or down vote on health care. It's time to make a decision. The time for talk is over.