The long-fought effort to reform the nation's health care system reached a pinnacle of achievement on Sunday with the approval by the House of Representative of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., a key architect of the bill, hailed the vote as "dramatic progress" in making health care in America more affordable, more accessible and better for the economy.
As chairman of The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, Pallone played a key role in writing the reform bill and helping to guide it through the House.
"The history of failed attempts at health care reform reaches back decades," said Pallone. "But more important than the historical achievement is what the reformed system will do for everyday Americans. We aren't just making history, we are making a better health care system."
The reformed system will provide insurance to an additional 32 million people, make insurance more affordable for small businesses and individuals, reduce the national debt and stop the insurance industry from exploiting the system at the expense and the harm to policy holders. They will no longer be allowed to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions or revoke coverage when people get sick. Lifetime and annual caps on coverage will also be abolished.
Pallone pointed out that members of Congress will have the same coverage as others in the health exchange.
"Our health care system is in crisis, millions of Americans are going without insurance, and rising health care costs are bankrupting many American families, said Pallone. "The reform bill will stop insurance company abuses, lower health care costs and give almost all Americans quality health care coverage, the same as members of congress."
An estimated 45,000 people die each year due to the lack of insurance.
The reforms will shift control of health care decisions from the insurance industry to patients and their doctors, Congressman Pallone stressed.
The reforms will reduce the national debt by $143 billion over the next 10 years and by $1.2 trillion the following ten years. The new system will produce four million new jobs in the coming decade and an additional 400,000 jobs each and every year thereafter.
Some of the reforms will be phased in over time, but others will take effect within months. They include:
* Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny coverage for children because of pre-existing conditions or current illnesses;
* Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to cancel coverage when policy holders get sick;
* Elimination of lifetime and annual caps;
* Establish an appeals process to for insurance company denials;
* Reduce out-of-pocket prescription drug prices for seniors;
* Parents will be able to keep their children on their insurance plan until age 26;
* Tax credits will be provided for small businesses to cover employees.
Congressman Pallone said the emphasis on preventive medicine will save lives and reduce costs.
"The status quo is not sustainable, Pallone said. "Doing nothing doesn't mean nothing will happen. The pattern of increasing premiums, the loss of coverage and wasteful spending will continue absent these reforms."
Members of Congress will have the same type of coverage as others in the insurance exchange.