Tester: Reconciliation Act Makes "a Good Health Insurance Reform Law Even Better'
Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement in response to the Senate's passage of the Reconciliation Act of 2010, and to the attempted amendments designed to kill the legislation:
"Today we made a good health insurance reform law even better. We got even tougher on insurance companies. We made prescription drugs more affordable. And we included more tax credits for small businesses. And we will save taxpayers a lot of money in the process.
"Before the final vote, we were forced to waste time and taxpayer money by voting on dozens of partisan political amendments. These measures were part of a last-ditch effort by folks who still insist on saying "no' to health insurance reform, cutting costs and saving money. That's politics as usual, and Montanans don't buy it."
The Reconciliation Act of 2010 improves the recently signed health care reform law. It also includes $61 billion in savings by streamlining student loans. The savings will be used to significantly strengthen financial aid for American students.
To improve health care, the Reconciliation Act:
* Includes more tax credits for small businesses to provide insurance for their employees.
* Offers a $250 rebate to seniors caught in the Medicare "Donut Hole," making prescription drugs more affordable.
* Eliminates the Medicare "Donut Hole" by 2020.
* Extends insurance reforms to all existing plans within six months (ending lifetime caps on coverage, allowing young Americans to stay on their parents plans up to age 26, prohibiting dropping coverage).
To improve student financial aid, the Reconciliation Act:
* Provides nearly $97 million in additional Pell Grant funding to Montana students in the next 10 years.
* Strengthens the Perkins Loan program, which provides low-cost, need-based federal loans to students.
* Provides $7.5 million to Montana over five years for College Access Challenge Grants.
* Provides loan forgiveness for members of the military who are called up to duty in the middle of the academic year.
* Keeps loan payments affordable by capping federal loan payments at 10 percent of income.
* Simplifies the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form by allowing students and families to apply for aid using the information on their tax returns.
* Cuts the national deficit.