If you have not yet called your member of Congress, please do. There are toll-free numbers you can use -- 888-876-6242.
The debate is well underway, and the House is divided but restrained. The parties disagree on the key issues -- the effect of reform on the federal budget, the effect on jobs, will it lower the cost of health care, and will it cover the uninsured. Those four questions form the battle lines. And plenty of myths abound. For example, experts say reform is not the "job killer" that the GOP claims.
Thankfully, the tone of the debate is more respectful than it's been, and polls are showing a shift in the American public, most of whom do not support a total repeal of the law. After all, as many as 129 million Americans have pre-existing conditions, and they would be far worse off if repeal won and there was nothing to replace it with. But truthfully, there are people who are enthusiastic supporters of the law, those who strongly oppose it, with the majority of Americans somewhere in the middle.
The House will vote this evening, and will vote to repeal -- the GOP has the votes, but only in the House. The Senate most likely will never vote on total repeal. This does not mark the end of the discussion, though. This is really the launch of what will be a two-year assault on the new law. Democrats know that they failed to explain the law well enough to the American people, so expect to learn more about the new law while the GOP chips away at it. The White House and Senate leadership continue to defend it. And others work to demonstrate how repeal would hurt business rather than helping it. Republicans say they will replace the reform law, but they haven't said with what. Democrats say they are willing to work with the GOP to improve the law. The White House has made the same offer. Even some prominent Republicans say that's the way to go. Still, the died hard GOP House leadership is intent on blocking implementation of the law.
In other ALARMING news, Politico reports that the rise in Social Security disability claims threatens to derail the program as it becomes more expensive than Social Security retirement. What a disaster this would be.
And yesterday, a number of advocacy organizations, including our friends at the Center for Medicare Advocacy, filed a lawsuit that seeks a ruling that patients with chronic illnesses are entitled to rehabilitative services even if their condition is not expected to improve. This is terribly important; Medicare often cuts off services to patients who need something like physical therapy to maintain their muscle tone, even though it won't cure their multiple sclerosis (for example). This lawsuit would put an end to that practice.
And that's today's news. Please call your member of Congress and tell them to vote no on repeal. Jennifer