For the most obvious reasons, I am beyond thrilled that the Health Care Bill was finally approved and passed through the House. I started to choke up when we finally received the necessary 216th vote to pass the bill. But honestly, it was the resounding 220, that defeated a last minute measure to trash the whole thing and stage a do-over, that made me break out in the cabbage patch. Cause at a certain point, enough is enough.
And while I can understand people being passionate about their positions, I have to admit, there were times when even I was shocked by the lies, nastiness and downright craziness that this issue brought out in people. Teabaggers openly calling Rep John Lewis a nigger, cowardly politicians screaming out "baby-killer" at Rep. Stubeck while he was speaking on the floor, Rep. Steve King pretending to bitch slap Nancy Pelosi and of course right wing pundits damn near predicting the beginning of the apocalypse because the bill passed, and the the list goes on.
Admittedly, the Health Care Bill is far from perfect. But I'll tell you what, it's for damn sure way better than what 32 million Americans had before 10:45p last night.
"Tonight's vote is not a victory for any one party... It's a victory for the American people. It's a victory for commonsense." -President Obama
PS. For those who didn't manage to read the bill, here's a cheat sheet on some of the changes:
IMMEDIATE FIXES: 2010
- SMALL BUSINESSES: Tax credits start flowing to businesses with fewer than 50 employees, covering 35% of premiums, to help them afford coverage. By 2014, that will rise to 50%.
- SENIORS: They get a $250 rebate to help fill the "doughnut hole" in Medicare drug coverage.
- YOUNG ADULTS: Health insurers are required to let young people stay on their parents' policy up to their 27th birthday.
- PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS: Insurers will be barred from denying coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions. Adults will have to wait until 2014 for the same protection. But high-risk pools will offer an option for affordable coverage until then.
- NO LIMITS ON COVERAGE: Insurers can't place lifetime caps on benefits any longer.
- PREVENTIVE CARE: New private plans will have to cover checkups and other preventive services with no co-pays. By 2018, all plans must comply.
- HEALTH CARE COMPANIES KICK IN: Drugmakers pony up new fees, starting at $2.7 billion. Insurance and medical-device providers follow in 2013.
- TAXES: Medicare payroll taxes increase - from a rate of 1.45% to 2.35% - for singles earning more than $200,000 a year and families above $250,000.
- INDIVIDUAL MANDATE: Almost everyone will be required to get insurance or face a fine - $95 in 2014, $325 in 2015 and $695 in 2016 (with a maximum of $2,250 for a family). There is an exemption for low-income people.
- EMPLOYER MANDATE: Businesses with 50 or more employees must offer insurance or pay a $2,000-per-worker penalty.
- HEALTH CARE EXCHANGES: New state-based marketplaces will be open for business, giving individuals and small businesses a place to shop for affordable insurance .
- SUBSIDIES: To help pay for insurance, the feds will offer subsidies to families making as much as $88,000 a year. Out-of-pocket spending will be tied to a person's income and kept as low as $1,000.
- TAX ON HIGH-COST HEALTH PLANS: A 40% excise tax will be slapped on high-cost "Cadillac" plans starting in 2018.
- Benefits that began to close Medicare's "doughnut hole" for prescription drugs in 2010 will finally complete the job in 2020.