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Historic: House unveils their health care bill

On the steps of the Capitol today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic caucus unveiled the “Affordable Health Care for America Act.” [pdf]

This bill makes health care more affordable to people, it regulates insurance company bad practices, it is fairly financed and asks employers to pitch in their fair share, and it gives us the choice of a public health insurance option to keep insurance companies honest.

There will be a lot more to say on this bill in the coming hours and days as it is passed through the House of Representatives, but the historical significance of today shouldn’t be understated.

I attended the bill unveiling at the Capitol building this morning, and the Members of Congress who spoke often referred to FDR and LBJ, who stood up for health care for all decades ago. One man embodies those passed fights, and it is fitting that he is the first co-sponsor of this new bill that will finally deliver on the promise of quality, affordable health care for all in America.

Representative John Dingell from Michigan has been in Congress since 1955. His father was one of the first to take up the fight for health reform in Congress, and ever since, Representative Dingell has carried on his father’s torch, introducing the universal health care bill his father wrote into Congress every year.

Today, Representative Dingell’s name appears first in the list of co-sponsors for the Affordable Health Care for America Act, and today on the Capitol steps, Representative Dingell spoke out for reform. He brought with him the gavel he used to help pass Medicare, and said he would lend it to whoever presided over the House vote on this health care bill. As he said, “A good piece of wood does not wear out with one great event.”

A comprehensive health care bill has never made it to the floor of the House, or with the kind of support this one has, in our nation’s history. We are closer today than we’ve ever been to passing health reform for the people of this country. And sometimes, it’s worth stepping back and thinking about that.

(also posted at the NOW! blog)

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Jason Rosenbaum

Jason Rosenbaum

Writer, musician, activist. Currently consulting for Bill Halter for U.S. Senate and a fellow at the New Organizing Institute.