“At present the United States has the unenviable distinction of being the only great industrial nation without compulsory health insurance,” the Yale economist Irving Fisher said in a speech in December. December of 1916, that is. More than nine decades ago, Fisher thought that universal health coverage was just around the corner. “Within another six months, it will be a burning question,” he predicted. Oh, well. What’s a century, give or take?
– The New Yorker, Pre-existing Condition, Jill Lepore
Think about that. This country has been working on passing health care reform for nearly 100 years. Organizations, activists, and pharmaceutical companies have organized to defeat reform time and time again. Facing nearly insurmountable odds yet again in 2009, Senate Democrats have already achieved more than any other Congress in history — having passed health care bills from both the HELP and Finance Committees. Now that we are closer than ever to passing real reform, many Americans want to know what will be in the final package. These are some of the core components: – Extends coverage to more than 30 million Americans who would otherwise be uninsured – Protects people against being denied coverage because of preexisting conditions – Protects people from having their coverage summarily dropped if they get sick – Protects people from being charged more on the basis of their gender or their health status – For the first time, childless adults living at or near the poverty level would be assured coverage under Medicaid – Children can remain on their parents’ insurance policies until age 27 – Provides subsidies for low and middle income workers that keeps premium costs under 10% of income – Limits on ER charges to low-income uninsured emergency patients This is an enormous step forward for Americans and the country’s health care system.