Comprehensive health care reform is expected to move through Congress before the August recess. President Obama has indicated that he wants the bill on his desk by October. Aggressive timelines have been set in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and legislation is expected on each Chamber floor for debate and potential votes before the August recess.
Just this week, the "Affordable Health Choices Act" was introduced in the Senate under the leadership of Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA). The House committees with primary jurisdiction over health care reform (Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor) also released a draft outline of a health care reform bill likely to move through that chamber over the next couple of months.
Both proposals include provisions important to people with MS, including: prohibiting insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions; subsidized premiums for low and middle class families; long-term care support, and; caps on total out-of-pocket spending. It is important to point out both proposals also provide the choice of maintaining existing coverage.
While the Senate and House legislation will differ in detail, there will be many common themes, such as: the establishment of a National Health Exchange; a requirement for individuals to obtain health insurance; the availability of subsidies; working to eliminate pre-exiting conditions, and; eliminating lifetime caps in insurance policies.
Stay tuned as we continue to follow the progress of comprehensive health care reform in Congress.