Senate votes to move forward on health reform!

Earlier tonight, the U.S. Senate voted on a “motion to proceed” to begin debate on a historic comprehensive health reform proposal, by a vote of 60-39. (All Democrats and Independents voting yes, all Republicans voting no, with GOP Senator George Voinovich not present.)

We thank California Senators Boxer and Feinstein for voting to move forward on the debate for desperately needed comprehensive health reform. Given the extent of California’s health crisis, we need to move this bill, and work on the Senate floor to make it better.

The bill would provide stability and security for those who have coverage, and that would extend affordable coverage to those who don’t. Californians are concerned that coverage won’t be there for them when they need it, and this bill provides our families with much needed security from financial ruin.

Californians have a particular interest in this debate. Californians are more likely to be uninsured, face a higher cost-of-living, are at greater risk to be denied for coverage for pre-existing conditions, and are less likely to be offered on-the-job coverage.The Senate bill would provide crucial financial assistance to small businesses and low- and moderate-income families, expand our safety net, provide key consumer protections against insurance company abuses, and provide the choice of a public health insurance option.

There are areas where we will push to improve the bill, closer to where the House bill is in affordability, inclusivity, and employer responsibility. We need to do better to ensure affordable and meaningful coverage both in terms of what low- and moderate-income families pay in premiums, and in out-of-pocket costs. We need to do better secure on-the-job coverage for working families. We need to remove unnecessary paperwork and prohibitions for people to use the new health insurance exchange. But despite these details, this is a good framework for moving forward.

What we needed tonight was to move the bill foward. We are proud that California’s Senators did the right thing for our state. We look forward to them taking quick action so that this legislation can become final law.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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