Before recessing for August, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, a key committee, approved health care legislation that could mean nearly universal coverage and a public option. Although there’s still a lot of negotiating and debating to go before we get comprehensive health care reform, it’s remarkable that health reformers are unified in their push for change. The New York Times suggests that all the Congressional debating has, perhaps, overshadowed some areas where there is consensus.
“There is wide agreement on the two elements of the legislation that the public cares about most: insurance market reforms and the expansion of coverage, with subsidies,” said Drew E. Altman, the president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which focuses on health policy.
Details of the major House and Senate bills differ, but most employers would have to provide insurance or contribute to the cost of coverage for employees, with exceptions for some small businesses…
The major bills offer the promise of more affordable insurance for people who are uninsured, including those with chronic illnesses. Under the legislation, it might be easier for people to switch jobs because they would not have to stay in less desirable jobs just to retain health insurance. The bills promise relief to people with huge out-of-pocket health costs and would eliminate co-payments for many preventive services.
With lawmakers leaving Washington during the recess to reconnect with constituents, August is going to be a key battleground for health care reform. So many Americans are still waiting for health care reform that can bring down their costs and increase access to quality health care and stalling reform has very real consequences for the American public. Media Matters Action Network reports that over 220,000 Americans will lose their health coverage while Congress is in recess, including 2,150 Minnesotans.
Health insurance companies will take these five weeks to combat and stall reform. Their latest tactic has been to fund Republican members of Congress, including some Minnesotan members, according to the Star Tribune. They have spent over $40 million on current members of Congress and half a billion dollars lobbying during the last decade. Those members include some Minnesotans.
Sixth District Rep. Michele Bachmann, an outspoken foe of a government insurance option, is among the top recipients this year in the entire U.S. House. Third District Rep. Erik Paulsen and Second District Rep. John Kline also ranked high in contributions received.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, only seven of the 435 members of the U.S. House rank higher this year in campaign contributions from donors within the insurance industry than Bachmann.
Reform combatants are ready to do everything they can during the August recess to stall reform, which means everyone who believes that Americans deserve quality, affordable health care for everyone need to speak out more than ever. Our members of Congress are leaving Washington, ready to listen to their constituents. Make sure you tell your members of Congress that America needs health care reform. Take action in August by attending events in your area with your members of Congress, so by the time they reconvene, they are as ready as the American people to pass health care reform.
Photo Credit: The Portland Mercury