08:36 AM EDT
After more than a year of extensive debate, the House voted last night to pass the most significant health reform legislation this country has seen in decades. It was a historic victory for the American people. And now, millions of Americans – workers, families, seniors, small business owners – stand to benefit from lower health care costs, expanded coverage and tough consumer protections.
This year, thousands of uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions will have the opportunity to purchase quality, affordable health insurance. Beginning in 2010, small business owners will no longer be forced to choose between offering health care and hiring new employees because they’ll be offered tax credits of up to 35 percent of premiums to help insure their employees. Medicare beneficiaries will no longer wonder how they’ll afford their prescription drug bills because they’ll be given a rebate of $250 if they hit the prescription drug donut hole in 2010. And early retirees will be provided help through the creation of a temporary re-insurance program to help offset the costs of expensive premiums.
This year, you will now have the security of knowing that insurers cannot deny coverage to your child because of a pre-existing condition. You won’t have to live every day in fear of having your insurance taken away from you if you get sick. And for new plans, there won’t be lifetime or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care you receive from your insurance companies.
Because we didn’t settle for the status quo, Americans who have insurance will now have the security and stability of knowing their coverage will be there when they need it most, and the millions of Americans who don’t have insurance will be provided with quality, affordable options. The legislation passed last night brings down health care costs for American families and small businesses, expands coverage to millions of Americans and ends the worst practices of insurance companies. And it begins to do so this year.
Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director