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American Health Insurance Reform Hits Another Historic Milestone

July 17, 2009

This morning, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Education and Labor Committee approved health insurance reform legislation. That means that three out of five House and Senate committees have now reported out health insurance reform legislation–the farthest comprehensive health reform effort has ever gotten.

Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-CA):

Health care reform is moving forward. This legislation will reduce costs that are crushing workers, families and businesses alike and it will ensure that patients — not insurance companies — hold the power to make decisions about their care. These reforms will save jobs, create millions of new careers, improve the health of our workforce and help rebuild our nation's middle class. Today's vote is a monumental step forward in our journey to finally fix our broken health care system.

Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, Pensions Rob Andrews (D-NJ):

I am honored to have participated in the historic passage of America’s Affordable Health Choices Act by the Education and Labor Committee. Millions of Americans work hard, play by the rules, and take care of their families. Yet they suffer from ever increasing health care costs and inadequate health insurance coverage. Our work was done on their behalf. Our country is now one step closer to a better health care system that will create jobs, promote wellness, and reduce health care costs for all Americans.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY):

This is an exciting day in the history of this Committee and the Congress as we tackle the challenges of reforming America's health care system. America is ready for reform, the rising cost of health care has been draining the economy and the pocketbooks of American families for too long. Today the Committee approved legislation that will encourage competition in the health insurance marketplace, control costs and improve access to quality affordable care. This uniquely American solution will put patients first, make critical investments in primary care and nurses, and reform the health care delivery system so that we can build a healthier, more productive economy.

Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark (D-CA):

Today's vote is another historic step toward enacting health care reform this year. I look forward reconciling our changes with the other committees, and voting on the floor of the House to provide affordable, quality health care to all Americans.

The Energy and Commerce Committee continues day two of their markup of America's Affordable Health Choices Act. Watch the live webcast>>

In the House:

“The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee on Friday became the second of three House committees to approve broad-spanning health-care overhaul legislation, after a marathon session Thursday night that stretched well into Friday morning.” [7/17/09]

“…And earlier Friday morning, the Ways and Means Committee voted to approve the tax provisions of the House bill…” [7/17/09]

In the Senate:

“The Senate health committee approved a massive health care overhaul bill [Wednesday]… a landmark moment in the 60-year push by the Democratic Party for national health care.” [7/15/09]

Growing Support for America's Affordable Health Choices Act

“The American Medical Association on Thursday endorsed… a bold step for a traditionally conservative group with a checkered past on health reforms. In its strongest action yet signaling support for President Barack Obama’s vow to reform health care, the nation’s largest doctors’ group sent letters to three House committees behind the bill.” [7/16/09]

The American Medical Association (AMA) “…The American Medical Association…express[es] our appreciation and support for H.R. 3200, the 'America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.' This legislation includes a broad range of provisions that are key to effective, comprehensive health system reform…The AMA wants the debate in Washington to conclude with real, long overdue results that will improve the health of America's patients.” [7/16/09]


The Backing Of The Nation's Largest Employers: “The so-called employer mandate is adamantly opposed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business … But the backing of Wal-Mart, which employs about 2 million people, could give a big boost to President Obama and Congress's effort to levy such a requirement on companies.” [6/30/09]

“The letter was the latest sign that some major interest groups and influential companies are coalescing behind Obama's push to overhaul the health-care system.” [Bloomberg, 6/30/09]

“Target Corp. and Kelly Services Inc. said they may support Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s call for mandatory medical insurance by large companies as part of a proposed overhaul of U.S. health care.” [7/14/09]

“Wal-Mart Stores Inc….supports legislation that would require large companies to offer health-care insurance to their workers, offering a boost to President Barack Obama's plans to revamp the system.” [6/30/09]

Main Street Alliance endorsed the House's America's Affordable Health Choices Act because it “encompasses the principles and objectives of Main Street small business owners to achieve comprehensive reform of our nation's health care system, giving small employers real choices in affordable health coverage including the option of a competitive public health insurance plan. We are proud to give this legislative framework our strong support and pledge to work with you and your colleagues toward its adoption.”


The New York Times: “House Democratic leaders have unveiled a bill that would go a long way toward solving the nation's health insurance problems without driving up the deficit… This is a bill worth fighting for… The legislation also includes some sound ideas for slowing the inexorable rise in health care costs… This bill is clearly not hugely costly… the House has set a clear standard for health care reform: It must cover all Americans without driving up the deficit.” [7/16/09]

Scripps Howard News Service: “…now a reform plan, perhaps by this fall, seems less and less improbable. House and Senate committees this past week pushed ahead with plans that do meet the goal of universality by extending coverage to the nearly 46 million currently without insurance.” [7/17/09]


A recent USA TODAY/Gallup poll found:

By a 23 point margin, 56-33 percent, those surveyed endorse the idea of enacting major health care reform this year. Half call it “extremely” or “very important” to them personally.

“The idea of increasing income taxes on upper-income Americans … is backed by 58%.”

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll demonstrated:

76 percent of respondents said it was important (“Extremely important” or “quite important”) to “give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance.”

A recent New York Times-CBS News poll found:

86 percent of respondents agree the “rising cost of health care” is a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” threat to the nation's economy.

85 percent of respondents said the current health care system needed “fundamental changes” or we need to “completely rebuild it.”

94 percent said it was a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem that “many Americans do not have health insurance.”

86 percent were “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” the health care costs their “family might face in the coming years.”

57 percent of respondents said Democrats are more likely to improve health care, compared to only 18 percent of respondents who picked Republicans. Even one of four Republicans said the Democrats would do better.

Next Steps

House “Speaker Nancy Pelosi has vowed to pass [reform] by the end of the month.” [7/17/09]

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that “it is “doable” to pass healthcare reform through the Senate before the recess scheduled to begin the second full week of August.” [7/16/09]

President Barack Obama said “The American people are on board. It’s now up to us. We can do what we’ve done for so long and defer tough decisions for another day — or we can step up and meet our responsibilities… And we are going to be continually talking about this for the next two to three weeks until we’ve got a bill off the Senate and we’ve got a bill out of the House.” [7/15/09]