Senator Jon Tester today made a powerful case for health care reform by sharing personal stories from Montanans with other lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Tester announced he will vote for the Senate's health care reform bill because it "saves lives, saves money and saves Medicare" using common sense and fiscal responsibility.
And, Tester added, the bill cracks down on insurance companies, preventing them from denying people who get sick or have pre-existing conditions.
"Right now, we are all paying far too much for health insurance," Tester said during a speech on the Senate floor. "Many of us can't get health insurance at all. And even worse, insurance companies don't always live up to their end of the bargain."
Tester told his colleagues that as a farmer, he and his wife had to drop their own health insurance decades ago because they couldn't afford it after the birth of their first child.
"We had no other choice but to hope and pray for our health and safety--and for the health and safety of our child," Tester said. "Thank God our prayers were answered."
Tester shared a story about Libby ranchers forced to sell their fourth-generation cattle ranch to pay medical bills. He also spoke about a Missoula breast cancer survivor who had to sell her home to pay for the chemotherapy she needed to stay alive.
Under the Senate's health care reform bill, Tester said, "painful sacrifices" like this would have been prevented.
"People are calling out for help, because a lot of folks are falling through the cracks," Tester said. "I say to them, "We're listening. We hear you. And we're doing something about it.'"
A final vote on the Senate health care reform bill is expected by Christmas Day. The measure:
* Keeps the government out of health care decisions
* Stops insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions or illnesses in all new insurance plans
* Lowers the national deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars
* Cuts waste and fraud in Medicare to ensure that Medicare is around for future generations
* Drives down the cost of health care by providing more competition
* Limits out-of-pocket expenses for new insurance plans
The legislation also includes language written by Tester that requires 20 percent of public health grants in the bill to specifically go to rural and frontier areas.