Moving One Step Closer to Health Insurance Reform

This week we move closer than ever before to enact comprehensive health insurance reform legislation. For months we have been talking about health reform. It has been a long process, but an end is soon approaching.

On Saturday, November 7, the House of Representatives passed its version of health reform legislation. The House bill will create a health insurance system that makes health insurance affordable for all Nebraskan families and ends health insurers’ more egregious practices. It is extremely disappointing that Reps. Lee Terry, Jeff Fortenberry and Adrian Smith voted against a bill that would help Nebraskans access the health care they need.  You can read more about Nebraska Appleseed’s thoughts on the health insurance reform bill that recently passed the House in a recent letter to the Lincoln Journal Star

Now the action moves to the Senate where it is expected that the bill will be unveiled this week and a vote to begin debate on the Senate floor may happen by Friday or Saturday.

There has been some uncertainty whether or not there would be enough votes to begin debate. Senator Mike Johanns held town hall forums in Nebraska last week and publicly stated that he would not vote to begin debate. There has also been some uncertainty whether Senator Nelson himself would support debate. We hope they both make the right decision and vote to begin debate this week. Health insurance reform is too important not to be debated.

Too many Nebraskans lack insurance or struggle to access affordable health insurance. Rising health insurance premiums have continued to outpace the growth of Nebraska workers’ wages. Too many Nebraskans who pay their annual premiums regularly have to fight for their insurers to cover them, or face denials of coverage altogether. Pre-existing health conditions too often exclude or price-out affordable coverage, while those who have recently lost their jobs, and thus their employer provided insurance, have seen how difficult it is to find affordable plans on the private market.

This past month Nebraska Appleseed and the Nebraska Health Care for America Now coalition have held nearly a dozen forums on health reform. We’ve talked to too many people across the state and seen how the lack of affordable coverage has made life difficult for countless farmers, small business owners, retirees, and working-class Nebraskans. Nebraskans deserve debate to begin.

We hope our Senators make the right decision to make quality, affordable health care accessible to all.  But they need your help to do it! This Thursday, Nebraskans will gather at the State Capitol for a candlelight vigil for health reform and declare that Nebraskans deserve a vote. Last August, more than 500 Nebraskans gathered to show their support for reform. Nebraskans will gather at 6pm for a candlelight ceremony and guest speakers from the faith and small business communities will urge Senator Nelson and Senator Johanns to “Vote Yes” for reform. After the speakers, we will march to Johanns and Nelson’s Lincoln offices and declare that now is the time for the Senate to make history.

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