Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Health Care Reform National Day of Action – Where We Are and What You Can Do

Where We Are:

On this day of action, it is important to understand the status of the health care reform legislative process so we can see how to move forward. Below is a brief summary of the process (for more details, please see the Health Care for American Now website).

In a historic first, all Committees in Congress with jurisdiction over health care reform have each passed a bill. These Committees include three in the House (Ways & Means, Education & Labor, and Energy & Commerce) and two in the Senate (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) and the Finance Committee). All of the bills have some differences, which will now be merged in each chamber. Following a vote in the House and the Senate, a compromise will then have to be reached through a Conference Committee.

In the House, there are substantial differences between the bills passed by the Energy & Commerce Committee and the bill coming out of both Ways & Means and the Education & Labor Committee. The Energy & Commerce bill differs substantially by requiring any public option plan to negotiate payment rates with providers, rather than building off the Medicare rates.

In the Senate, there are also substantial differences between the bills passed by the HELP Committee and the Finance Committee. In particular, the HELP bill has a public health insurance option and an annual fee on employers who do not provide coverage.

For a comparison of all bills, please view the side-by-side tables put together by the Kaiser Foundation.

What You Can Do:

There are many things you can do to help reform health care:

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