U.S. House passes historic health care legislation

By Ramona du Houx - November 8th, 2009 · 

The U.S. House of Representatives tonight voted to pass historic health care reform legislation. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree voted for the bill, which will stop insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions like heart disease or diabetes and stop them from hiking premiums or canceling coverage when people get sick. The legislation also makes prescription drugs more affordable for seniors, provides subsidies and more choices for people who don’t have employer provided insurance and will result in health care coverage for 96% of Americans, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

“This is the most important vote I have cast in Congress,” said Pingree. “There is nothing we can do for Maine and this country that is more important than fixing our health care system, and tonight we’ve taken a big first step toward doing that.”

Earlier today, Pingree spoke on the House floor in favor of the bill. (Video is here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osBi3daouvI )

“This bill moves us much closer to a time when no one can be denied health care coverage because of a pre-existing condition, no one can be told you can’t have health care coverage, no one will have to go into personal bankruptcy.”

“I am so proud to be here casting the vote that so many of my constituents have waited too long for,” said Pingree.

Pingree says the health care bill will improve health care coverage for those who already have insurance and provide access to health care for 75,000 people in Maine and 36 million people nationally who don’t currently have insurance.

“This bill will help seniors by reducing prescription drug prices and closing the donut hole, it will help those who have coverage by cracking down on the worst practices of the insurance industry, and will provide subsidies to nearly 360,000 Maine individuals and nearly 40,000 Maine small businesses to make idnsurance more affordable,” said Pingree.

Yesterday, the House Rules Committee, on which Pingree sits, held the final hearing on health care reform legislation in a session that lasted over 12 hours and heard testimony on over 200 amendments.

The bill drew the votes of 219 Democrats and Rep. Joseph Cao, a first-term Republican who holds an overwhelmingly Democratic seat in New Orleans. Opposed were 176 Republicans and 39 Democrats.

From the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada issued a statement saying, “We realize the strong will for reform that exists, and we are energized that we stand closer than ever to reforming our broken health insurance system.”