Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Great news on health care reform

Great news! Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives took a monumental step toward achieving security and stability for American families – We passed the Affordable Health Care for America Act.

This is GREAT NEWS for the 46 million Americans who are uninsured, including 135,000 people in our very own district. It’s great news for the 30 million Americans who are underinsured, or only have catastrophic coverage.  And it’s great news for the 700,000 Americans who go bankrupt every year because of astronomical medical bills.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act achieves three key goals: It provides more security and stability to those who have health insurance; it provides affordable insurance to those who don’t; and it lowers the cost of health insurance for our families, our businesses, and our government.

But that’s not all that the bill will do.

Did you know that this legislation will immediately reduce the Medicare Part D “Donut Hole” by $500, bringing 1.1 million seniors completely out of this gap in coverage? Or, that the bill provides 50% discounts on brand-name drugs in the “Donut Hole,” saving affected seniors almost $2,000 a year?

How about improvements in access to care? Did you know that this bill eliminates out-of-pocket expenses for preventative services in Medicare? Or that it improves the low-income subsidy programs in Medicare? Or that it extends Medicare’s solvency by 5 years while providing better, more affordable care for America’s seniors?

What if I told you that the health care reform bill will do all that—and more? I think you could agree that’s great news for our seniors.  Medicare is a sacred trust, and health insurance reform will help ensure that trust is never broken.

That’s why the Affordable Health Care for America Act has been endorsed by the non-partisan AARP, who have been leaders in the fight to reduce the cost of health care and expand coverage for more than fifty years. They know that health care reform will strengthen Medicare, make health care more affordable, and make coverage more secure for America’s seniors.

The American Medical Association endorsed the bill, too. These doctors and medical professionals have seen firsthand what’s broken about our health care system. They have seen what happens when patients can’t get the care they need. They know the importance of the relationship that patients have with their doctors. Doctors know that no insurance company bureaucrat should make decisions about your health.

The AARP, AMA, and the hundreds of other groups that have endorsed the bill are supporting reform because it is a good deal for seniors.

But seniors aren’t the only group that reform will help.

This legislation will protect employer-provided coverage, while slowing employers’ skyrocketing health care costs and assisting small businesses in providing health care for employees.

It will safeguard young adults, allowing them to stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 27 years old.

And it will establish, for the first time ever, vital consumer protections that will make you and your families’ health care more secure. It will reverse years of unfair insurance company practices, and prohibit discrimination for pre-existing conditions, excessive out-of-pocket deductibles and co-pays, dropping coverage for the seriously ill, gender discrimination, and will eliminate annual and lifetime caps on coverage.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act will do all of these things for you, all while cutting the deficit by about $30 billion in the first ten years.

Now is the time to turn our “sick care” system into a true health care system. Now is the time for insurance companies to compete, ensuring all Americans are healthy, secure, and empowered. Now is the time to enact health care reform, so that no American will ever have to fear they will be dropped when they get sick, and no one will go bankrupt from a medical emergency.

The bottom line is that we must enact comprehensive health care reform. That is what the American people have asked for, and that is what we will do.

I hope to be an ally in government for all of the people in my district, fighting to keep the residents of South Florida safe and healthy.  If you need help, you can reach my office in Pembroke Pines at (954) 437-3936, in Aventura at (305) 936-5724, in Washington, DC at (202) 225-7931, or on the internet at: www.house.gov/wassermanschultz

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