Senator Reid is not at 60 votes yet. Ben Nelson is still stuck on the abortion issue. Although anti-abortion Senator Casey from Pennsylvania has drafted compromise language, Senator Nelson is not yet on board. As I've already explained below, the issue is the use of federal funds -- subsidies, basically -- to pay for insurance policies that cover abortion. Senator Nelson wants to prohibit any policy covering anybody who receives a subsidy from covering abortion. A majority of the Senate has rejected this because it would essentially eliminate insurance coverage of abortion, even if paid for by a woman's own money. Senator Nelson appears to be the lone Democrat hold-out.
Why should we support a bill even though it won't have a public option?
- The Senate compromise will result in coverage for more than 30 million people who don't have insurance and cannot afford insurance today.
- The Senate compromise will allow people to buy insurance through an Exchange so people can see all of their options and make informed choices.
- The Senate compromise contains subsidies making health insurance affordable for people who otherwise could not afford insurance. This includes people who are unemployed and cannot afford COBRA premiums.
- Insurers no longer could charge women more than men for the same coverage.
- The Senate compromise will eliminate lifetime caps on benefits.
- Children will be covered to age 26.
- The Senate compromise provides subsidies for small businesses who provide insurance for their employees.
- The Medicare coverage gap or doughnut hole will be plugged, so people who have high prescription drug costs will not have thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket expenses.
I'm deeply saddened that, due to Senator Lieberman and others, we will not be able to control premium prices by creating a public option that would cost less and, thus, create real competition in the insurance industry. But if the Senate fails to garner 60 votes to end debate and bring the bill to a vote, we will get none of that, and it's likely that we won't have another shot at reform for many years. And cost may be controlled to some extent; there is a push on to require that insurers spend 80 or 85 percent of premium dollars on medical benefits rather than administrative costs and profits. So there's still hope.
So please, please, please CALL YOUR SENATOR TODAY. The first "cloture" vote to end debate and bring the bill to a vote is expected to occur on Monday. You can find your Senator's contact information here. Alternatively, call 1-800-828-0448 and ask to be connected to your Senator's office. Thank you. Jennifer