By Alexandra Sange
You couldn’t have possibly missed this weekend’s BIG news: the Senate gave us a bill, and then they gave us a tight vote on health reform. Very tight, in fact. But was it they voted on, exactly?
The Senate didn’t vote to pass the merged Senate health reform bill that Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) unveiled last week. What they did vote on (and on party lines) was to move forward to consider and debate the bill – namely the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Which will be a very important, and potentially very long, process. The vote was another big step forward in the right direction, so here’s a closer look at where we’re going in health reform, Senate-wise. The Senate merged bill now under debate goes a long way to advance national health reform. It makes coverage available to as many as 31 million uninsured individuals, extends Medicaid eligibility to 133% of the Federal Poverty Level to cover an additional 15 million people, and provides subsidies and assistance to millions more. Importantly, the bill calls on Congress to provide funding to expand the reach of Community Health Centers and to provide scholarship and loan repayment assistance to primary care clinicians who agree to serve in provider-short communities.
NACHC’s press release on this weekend’s vote and our letter of support for the bill are here. Although the bill takes great strides forward toward accessible and affordable health care, we remain committed to working with leaders in Congress to strengthen and improve the bill for Community Health Centers and our patients even further. The provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that are most important to health centers are here. For more detail from the Senate, the Democratic Policy Committee has pulled all of the chamber’s one-pagers and resources on the legislation together here.
We’re deep in the woods in health reform and it’s easy to get lost. Remember to check NACHC’s Health Reform Hub and this blog early and often for up-to-date insight, talking points and fact sheets so you’re informed and ready for action.