The US House and Senate are expected to vote on the federal budget bills this week. Coming out of committee, each bill contains a key provision proposed by President Obama in his budget for health reform: a down payment of $634 billion to finance the major changes our health system needs to improve quality and cover everyone.
The money in the budget is absolutely critical for health reform efforts – health reform cannot move forward this year without it. We can’t control costs effectively until we cover everyone. And covering everyone, as Obama said repeatedly during his campaign, costs money.
Senator Kay Hagan faces a key vote on this bill this week. Last week, she indicated she was disturbed by the President’s budget and might well vote against it. Hagan would do well to listen to the call from April Graham, a young mother and state corrections officer who spoke at Obama’s health care forum in Greensboro on Tuesday.
Graham related how she was excited during the last election and worked for Obama, Perdue, and other candidates like Hagan because of the promise of health reform. Why? She can’t afford coverage for two of her kids right now – the dependent coverage premiums are too expensive under the state health plan. However, with health plan premiums set to go up even more, she felt like the politicians she worked for have turned their backs on her and her family’s problems.
• Too many families like Ms. Graham’s are facing bankruptcy, losing their jobs, and unable to afford health insurance. We need to do more to protect all families as we face this economic crisis. With unemployment in NC now over 10%, the time to act is now.
• President Obama made a strong commitment to comprehensive health reform in his budget through a $634 billion down payment. The House and Senate budget resolutions build on that commitment.
• We need to take action now in order to expand coverage and control costs because our current health care system is not sustainable.
Hagan was elected on a platform that promised significant health reforms. Let’s hope she remembers that commitment in her vote on the budget.