The push for health care reform has entered its victory mile.
On Saturday night, exactly two weeks after the House passed its version of a health care bill, U.S. Senators voted along party lines 60-39 to move their version of the legislation to the Senate floor for open debate.
But now that the finish line is in sight, using your voice to shape the outcome of the debate is more crucial than ever.
"Now is the time to act," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. on CBS' "Face The Nation." "And, frankly, you know, there are a lot of people on the other side of the aisle who don't want health care."
The Senator, who supports the current bill, is right. But whether you support or oppose health care reform; support the public option or not; you have one last opportunity to make your voice heard.
Even for Republicans who oppose the current bill, it has become clear, it seems, that while the public option remains an option, failure is not. The majority of Americans want health care reform. The issue of what those changes to the existing health care system should look like has become the central issue.
"The reality is this is a huge issue affecting every American," admitted Republican Sen. Jon Kyl also on CBS. “And we do need to do it right."
On Friday morning, before the Senate’s milestone debate on Saturday, Mitch Stewart, the director of the Democrats’ Organizing for America, wrote millions of President Obama’s supporters, reminding them of the benefits of the health care proposal in Congress.
“It accomplishes all of this while reducing the deficit by as much as $777 billion over the next 20 years,” he wrote in the e-mail. “Today, senators are listening carefully to see how Americans are reacting to the bill and how we want them to proceed. So it's our job to make sure they hear quickly and unmistakably: Move forward!”
In the e-mail he lists the phone numbers of Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (202-224-3542) and Senate Minority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell (202-224-2541), encouraging voters to call them and voice their opinions.
Those who still oppose the bill are mostly pointing to its high cost. They say although the Congressional Budget Office has scored the bill and confirmed that it won’t increase the deficit, it will increase premiums and taxes and it will cripple insurance companies. They also point out the fact that the government will start collecting taxes for health care in 2011 but will only start spending money on health care reform in 2014.
Most supporters like the bill because it promises to cover 96 percent of Americans, lower costs of health care, will expand coverage to everybody – even those with pre-existing health conditions - and will allow Americans more flexibility because the availability of health care won’t be so tied to a person’s job.
The focus of the Senate, then, should move beyond the labels and slogans and buzz phrases like “public option.” They should focus on delivering a bill that addresses this difficult and central question: What is the best way to provide the best and most affordable health care to the highest number of Americans possible without producing waves that upset the overall stability of the economy?
That’s their job.
But we all have work to do, too. This is a huge moment in history that directly affects every individual. The only way to get a bill that reflects the strongest ideas and desires of the population is to stand up and make your voices heard.
Comment Below: Tell President Obama Where You Stand on Health Care