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Monday, February 1, 2010

Don't look back

Tara Bostock

Staff Writer

I just want to say one thing to all of you who are worried: Health reform is NOT dead. Seven hundred health reform advocates descended on DC last week to attend Families USA's annual conference, and everyone here is re-energized and ready to tell Congress and tell the President that the time is now to pass health reform.

Headlines about health reform have been heartbreaking lately to those of us who have worked so hard for so long. They say health reform is dead, or that Congress is moving on to other legislative priorities. The coverage of reform has become focused on the petty fights between Senate and House members and Democrats and Republicans and the process behind reform, while WHAT this reform is all about has been lost.

Being at the conference has helped me remember what we are fighting for, and the fatigue that I began to feel after last week has dissipated. It's important that we all stay in the game, and that we all stay focused on our goal.

Talk to your friends and educate them. Maybe they are concerned about the costs. Tell them that thousands of pilot programs in the bill will help us build more efficient systems--urge them to read this article about how pilot programs have worked in the past. Preventive care measures and making sure doctors are rewarded for the quality of care not the quantity of care will also save money.

You may know people who are upset that reform isn't going far enough. Ask them to think of this as a step-a step towards a greater goal. And encourage them to think of what will happen if we do not pass health care reform: Medicare will run out of money, millions of kids and adults will remain uninsured, costs will continue to rise, and every year, tens of thousands of people will die because of lack of coverage. The system we have isn't sustainable, and it isn't working.

Senator Al Franken spoke to the Health Action conference attendees yesterday, and he told us that he is dedicated to the passage of reform. So tell your health reform fatigued friends that there is hope.

And for those who wonder just what the Senate bill does, tell them what Sen. Franken told us:

  • Coverage for 31 million more Americans.

  • No denying coverage or charging more for pre-existing conditions or gender.

  • Subsidies for low-income Americans to purchase insurance.

  • Getting rid of lifetime and annual limits.

  • Small business tax credits.

  • Getting recommended preventive care covered by all insurance plans at no cost. 

  • And health plans putting more money towards actual health care.

So that is what it is all about. And the people who need to hear from you the most right now are your Senators and Representatives. Call them and tell them that you want to see health reform passed now, and encourage your friends and family members to call too. We are still here, and we will continue to fight.