November 23, 2014

Harkin says Senate on the cusp of history with health care reform

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says Congress is on the cusp of something “truly historic” with its health care reform proposal, which he vows will win passage before Christmas. Harkin says the significance of the plan compares to passage of Social Security in 1935 and to Medicare in 1965. He says the health care legislation’s crowning element is extending coverage to more than 30-million Americans who don’t now have it.

“The second great reform in this bill is an array of provisions cracking down on abuses by health insurance companies, abuses that currently leave most Americans just one serious illness away from bankruptcy,” Harkin says. “Among other things, the bill will extend coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. It will stop insurers from canceling the policies of people who get sick.”

Harkin chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which created many provisions in the massive bill, which reports say could end up costing one-trillion dollars over ten years. Harkin says the legislation has the power to help change the way the nation lives.

“Our bill includes a whole array of provisions designed to jump-start Americans’ transformation into a genuine wellness society,” Harkin says. “We are going to require coverage of preventive services, such as mammograms, without deductibles. This will begin to transform our current sick care system into a true health care system.”

Harkin, a Democrat, blames Republicans for putting roadblocks in the way of the bill’s progress. The Senate was brought to standstill Wednesday after a Republican senator called for an amendment to the bill to be read aloud, all 767 pages. Harkin says progress and politics has always involved the art of compromise. Harkin says he’s disappointed with the bill’s current form, saying, “We have compromised away a lot of things that I think are essential for good health care reform.”

“What we’re buying here with this health care reform bill is a modest home, not a mansion, in fact, I call it a starter home,” Harkin says. “It’s got a good foundation, to cover 31-million Americans, it’s got a good roof for protection, it cuts down on abuses, and it provides for the biggest infusion of money into wellness and prevention that we’ve ever done.”

Harkin says this isn’t the end of health care reform, but it’s just the beginning, as he says additions can be built onto the “house” as needed. Today marks the 18th day of Senate floor debate on the health care bill.