By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director
Thankfully the Senate vote this week on the health care reform bill went down on a 51-47 vote. But what’s troubling – very troubling – is that every single Republican in the Senate voted to repeal health care reform. Even senators who voted for the bill when it passed last year have now switched sides – these include both Senators from Maine Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, and Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts.
This landmark care bill will expand coverage to 32 million Americans who currently don’t have health insurance, most frequently because they cannot afford it. That doesn’t mean they don’t need the insurance – or won’t use health care services. It just means that when they get sick or get into an accident, they either forego care or end up paying out-of-pocket what are often exorbitant rates. Prior to passage of health reform, the United States was the only industrialized country that didn’t provide health care for its population. As the richest nation, that should be source of shame, not pride.
Republicans who voted to repeal say they feel the health reform law violates the Constitution by mandating that most individuals be required to buy insurance. The problem with that argument is that unless everyone buys into the insurance system, we won’t be able to spread the risk among both the healthy and sick. If only sick people opt into the insurance, soaring costs of taking care of those needing the most care will overwhelm the system.
The House of Representatives has already voted to repeal the bill. We salute those Senators who stood their ground on the vote this week and are standing up for the principle that all Americans deserve access to high quality and affordable health care.