March 22, 2010

A Historic American Achievement

Last night, we watched history unfold in real time as the House of Representatives passed the Senate's health insurance reform bill: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

With this vote, we move another important step closer to giving every New Mexican - and every American - access to quality, affordable health care.

It will extend coverage to 32 million Americans; shrink and eventually close the prescription-drug doughnut hole for seniors; prevent insurance companies from discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and gender; and reduce the deficit by $143 billion in the first 10 years.

Next Steps

Tomorrow, the President will sign this bill into law. The great news for New Mexicans is that many of the reforms in the bill will have a real impact right away in 2010, including:

  • Tax credits of up to 35 percent of health care premiums for small businesses insuring their employees; 
  • A $250 rebate for seniors who hit the prescription drug doughnut hole in 2010; 
  • A temporary re-insurance program for retirees not yet eligible for Medicare; 
  • A new program for uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions starting in 90 days; 
  • A ban on new plans excluding pre-existing conditions for children starting in 6 months.

You can read more about all the benefits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act here.

And this week in the Senate, we're going to work to make reform even better. We'll have an up-or-down final vote on a separate bill also passed by the House last night, the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act, which includes meaningful improvements that help provide all Americans access to quality, affordable health care, including:

  • Assistance for working Americans who can't afford health coverage; 
  • Incentives for doctors to pursue primary care and serve patients from medically underserved and rural areas; 
  • Increased support for Medicaid in New Mexico and across the country while demand increases; 
  • Additional provisions to support reducing the deficit by $143 billion in the first 10 years.

I'll keep you updated throughout the week as we finish this chapter of health reform in America. This legislation won't solve all of the problems we face as a nation regarding health care. But it will help us meet many of the most acute challenges that we face today and serve as a foundation that we can revisit and build upon in the future. And I'll continue to work hard to make health care reform work even better for New Mexicans and all Americans.