Another Weekend of Debate on Healthcare Reform
by: Pat Hernandez, December 18, 2009 4:12:34 pm
It is the third straight weekend the Senate has been in session, mostly on account of the health care bill. Republicans threatened to delay Senate business with a health care read-a-thon of the changes made to legislation, changes made behind closed doors.
"This is the furthest we've ever gotten along on healthcare for everyone in history."
That's Houston Congressman Gene Green. He sits on the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. He says a lot of constituents are concerned about how the measure might affect Medicare.
"Medicare has been a great program and they're always worried somebody's gonna take it away or eliminate it, and so there's been a lot of scare tactics in this legislation. This bill will actually help Medicare. It'll extend the life of Medicare funding wise for another five years, but it also will close the doughnut hole in prescription drug benefit in Medicare that was created in 2003, where seniors fall off. They don't receive any benefits at all at a certain level and, this bill will actually close that doughnut hole so seniors will be able to get prescription drug benefit throughout the year, instead of falling into a gap in it."
The bill would require most Americans to purchase insurance, and it includes hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies to help lower-and middle-class families afford it. Green says following discussion, the measure goes to a conference committee, where the House and Senate will iron out any differences.
"And we would hope to have some Republican votes. This has been a very 'democratic' bill, because we haven't been able to pick up except one, in the house, one Republican vote. And, I would hope that a conference committee would try and bridge that gap so we would have a real bipartisan bill."
A bill says Green, for all Americans.