Flood the House with calls - Pass the bill now!

We cannot afford to lose health care reform.  This is not just a once in a lifetime opportunity, this is a once in a century opportunity.  Teddy Roosevelt first called for universal health insurance in America.  Harry Truman put it in the Democratic platform.  And today, some want to tell us that all the progress we made on this issue over the last year has to be scuttled because we lost a Senate race in Massachusetts.  I don't think so.

Health Care for America Now is pushing forward on health care reform:
Health Care for America Now is putting its money where its mouth is. Last week, the nation's largest reform campaign put itself on the side of major labor organizations, and leading members of Congress, saying the way out of the Democrats' health care conundrum is for the House to pass the Senate's legislation, and then pair it with a separate package amending key financing and structural aspects of the bill. This week, they're stepping up their efforts to make sure that happens.
I need you to do this.  Call Congress.  Call your member of the House.  Here's the Capitol Switchboard number: (202) 224-3121. Call and ask to speak to your representative's office.  Once you get their office, tell them that you want them to vote for the Senate health care bill unamended, and then start working on a reconciliation package to fix concerns about financing, coverage, etc.  But the Senate bill must pass the House first in order for anything at all to happen.  You can also look up your member of Congress on House.gov.

Once you do that, you can call back the number and ask to speak to your Senators (or look them up on Senate.gov).  Tell your Senators that you want them to work with the House on the reconciliation bill once the House passes the Senate bill.

There are a bunch of people saying we must first pass a bill through reconciliation, and then pass the Senate bill.  They are wrong.  The order is exactly backwards, and it's putting the cart before the horse.  What precisely is this reconciliation bill supposed to "fix" if we don't have a bill to begin with (which we do not unless both houses of Congress passes identical bills)?  Do you go and find the patches for a pair of torn jeans before you actually have the pair of torn up jeans?  Do you do that while you are naked?  Right now, the process, and millions of Americans who need help are left naked under the status quo.  The Senate bill is the only pair of jeans available - even though it's torn up.  You have to get that first if you hope to stop leaving the American people naked and victims of insurance companies.  Then you can patch it up.  The patches are very important, but you can't patch something that doesn't yet exist!

Let me remind you quickly what is at stake just in the Senate bill alone:
  • $10 billion in Community Health Center funding, something Sen. Sanders asked for, got, and characterized as a revolution in primary care.  That's not just important for people with scarce access, but also to compete with for-profit facilities and hospitals.  When there are 5 CHC's in each Congressional district and everyone can access it (if you have insurance, it will pay for it, and if you don't and can't afford it, you will still get affordable or free care), the for profit hospitals and facilities will have to compete to stay in business.
  • Health insurance coverage for 31 million additional Americans, who would not have it otherwise.  45,000 people die every year due to lack of health insurance.  At stake is our opportunity to cut down on that number severely.  The senate bill will add 31 millions of Americans to the coverage rolls and provide substantial subsidies to those who need it the most.
  • Community Health Centers and additional coverage will cut down on deaths from preventable illness.  Currently, 100,000 more people die every year in America from preventable illness than if our rates of such deaths were comparable to the best performing nations.  100,000 lives are at stake.  Every year.
  • Insurance regulatory reform.  
    • The bill in question will bar insurance company practices from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, or any health conditions.  In fact, it eliminates the consideration of health conditions from determining your rate, except for age (3x) and tobacco use (1.5x).
    • Eliminates yearly and lifetime caps on benefits.
    • It eliminates copays and deductibles on preventive care.
    • Caps your out-of-pocket expenses on a sliding scale (as it does premiums) for people up to 400% of poverty, and above that, to $5,950 for individual plans and $11,900 for family plans.
So what are you waiting for?  Call your member of Congress right now!  Here, once again, is the Capitol Switchboard number: (202) 224-3121.  Call and tell your Congressperson you want them to pass the Senate bill first and as soon as possible, and then work on a reconciliation package for the fixes.  Don't wait, call now.  Let's not forget the 45,000 who die from lack of health insurance every year, or the 100,000 that die unnecessarily from preventable illness - because, there, but for the grace of God (if you believe in one, or luck) - goes every last one of us.  Once you call, you can also twitter your Representative and Senators.  Here are some tweeting tools to use:
But please call first, and ask them to pass the bill.  (202) 224-3121.

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