Comment On The Signing Of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The White House

After a long night of worry and ruin for uncounted millions of American families who have fallen through the cracks of a broken health insurance system, this is the dawn of an historic new day of hope in a country that has always risen to meet its challenges and to renew its promises.

America has some of the best health care in the world, if you can afford it.  Millions of families in Vermont and across the nation worry that they are just one paycheck away from medical and financial disaster.  This is a new dawn for them.

Wherever I travel in Vermont I am often stopped in the grocery store, at church, on the street or at the gas station to listen to personal, wrenching stories, like the woman from Winhall who needs to spend $500 a month on prescriptions but who would be uninsured if not for her husband’s job.  She is working two jobs just to make ends meet and to afford their health care costs.  Or the small business owner who works six and seven days a week but still can’t afford the blood tests her doctor recommended.  If she becomes sick she will lose her business and her home.  This is a new dawn for them.

I grew up in my family’s small business in Montpelier.  I know that business owners want to attract and keep good workers and many want to be able to offer health insurance options.  Spiraling insurance costs are rapidly taking that option away.  Some of the most immediate and far-reaching reforms in this new law are the tax credits that will help small businesses continue to offer insurance to their employees.  This is a new dawn for small business owners and for those who are self-employed.

Until now, the rules have been stacked in favor of insurance companies.  Now the rules will protect America’s families.

Like many sweeping reforms of our history, this legislation will likely be improved in the coming years as these reforms are implemented.  For example, I will continue to push for a public option and for repeal of the health insurance industry’s anti-trust exemption, in order to promote competition, choice and lower prices.

This week, the Senate is already working on improvements to this legislation.  These include closing the Medicare ‘donut hole’ in the next several years, making coverage more affordable, and creating a more equitable distribution of Medicaid reimbursements to states like Vermont that have acted early on reform.

Health insurance reform has prevailed through the grueling gauntlet of obstructionism erected by defenders of the status quo.  One remaining gauntlet remains in the Senate, where many are trying to derail these further improvements to this law – improvements that many of these opponents say they support.  

I am proud of our president and our country for proving that change is possible when a pressing national interest is at stake.

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