Iowa Senator Tom Harkin joined other Democratic leaders in unveiling the latest health care reform plan on Wednesday. Estimates find it would cost 849-billion dollars over ten years. Harkin says he’s thrilled with the package and predicts it will become law early in 2010.
Harkin says he’s pleased the measure puts a new emphasis on wellness and prevention, “so that we keep people well, rather than treat them once they become sick.” He calls it, “a good deal for America.” “We now have a strong bill with a public option to take to the Senate floor and the independent Congressional Budget Office has determined that it meets President Obama’s requirement that it not add a dime to the deficit,” Harkin says. “Indeed, our bill reduces the deficit by $127-billion in the first decade and by about $650-billion in the second decade.”
While most Republicans bitterly oppose the bill, Harkin says it contains the key elements many people want to see, things that need to be changed about our nation’s health care system. “This bill will extend insurance coverage to most Americans,” Harkin says. “Our bill will cover 94% and when you throw in Medicare, it’s about 98%, and we provide subsidies for those who can’t afford it. It will ban health insurance company abuses like denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and dropping policy holders who get sick.”
Harkin says the bill contains a strong “public option” or government-run health insurance plan, which he says will bring competition and offer people choices. “The way forward is now clear, and if necessary, I will push for the Senate to work on Saturdays and Sundays during December in order to complete work on the bill before Christmas,” Harkin says. “I see us going to conference with the House on the bill after New Year’s and sending a final bill to President Obama’s desk sometime in January.” The House passed a different version of the bill on November 9th.