by Kaitlin McColgan
Last week, the House Democratic Leadership released their “blended” health reform bill, which includes the work of the three House committees of jurisdiction and the results of months of negotiations behind the scenes. Read Alex Sange’s excellent post for more details on what is included in that bill.
Between that news and Senate Majority Leader Reid’s announcement earlier in the week that he had moved the Senate once step closer to floor action by sending a final set of proposals to the Congressional Budget Office for analysis, an aura of “inevitability” seems to have settled over Washington. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus was quoted in the New York Times calling it just that: “a sense of inevitability, the sense that, yes, we’re going to pass health reform.”
Indeed, indications are that as soon as the end of this week, the House may consider its version on health reform, and that the Senate may follow soon thereafter. Yet, there are still countless hurdles in the bill’s path.Stories this morning indicate that within the House Democratic Caucus, there are concerns amongst groups on both the more conversative and liberal ends of that caucus. The Democratic Leadership of the House is still working to secure the 218 votes they will need for passage, with no Republicans likely to support the bill. There will be many twists and turns before we know for certain that health reform will become law.
What does this mean for health centers? It means that remaining focused on our health center priorities is more important than ever. We understand better than anyone how important expanded coverage and access are to millions of Americans. Health centers have worked tirelessly- dating all the way back to our Policy and Issues Forum in DC last March- to promote our health center priorities of participation, payment, and growth. Now that the enactment of our goals is closer than it has ever been, our collective grassroots power is the key to making sure our priorities stay in the bills.
As health reform continues to move forward, we have reason to be optimistic, but we also know that we have to be ever vigilant. Stay tuned to your NACHC grassroots alerts, and if you are called upon, please act as quickly as you can. The next few weeks could make history and we have the opportunity to ensure that health centers will be a part of it, but only if our voices continue to be heard.