History in the Making

John Podesta details why the House of Representatives' passage of health care reform is an overwhelming progressive victory.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi walks to the floor as the House prepares to vote on health care reform on Sunday, March 21, 2010. (AP/Alex Brandon)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi walks to the floor as the House prepares to vote on health care reform on Sunday, March 21, 2010. (AP/Alex Brandon)

The House of Representatives this evening made history. Progressive and moderate members of Congress passed the most significant domestic legislative package in over 40 years—legislation that fulfills the promise of progressive leadership by finally addressing the long-simmering health care crisis in our country. The new law puts us on a path to provide health care coverage for all Americans, empowers consumers over insurance companies, and ensures we are moving to reduce health care costs over the long term.

The new law accomplishes the long-sought goal of expanding affordable health care coverage to the tens of millions of Americans who are uninsured today, ensuring that 95 percent of Americans will soon have health insurance. And it ends abusive health insurance company practices by guaranteeing no American will ever again be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition or see their coverage canceled when they get sick.

Importantly, the new law also lowers costs for small businesses and individuals who buy coverage on their own through the creation of health insurance exchanges. It caps health care spending for millions of families who struggle with health costs today. And it brings a new focus to prevention, helping all families manage their health. Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill reduces the federal budget deficit by $143 billion through 2019, and it will yield even greater savings in the decades to come.

Yet the hard work of health reform isn’t finished—first the Senate must pass the final bill and send it to the President’s desk.

But today we should celebrate this historic achievement. I congratulate Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), and all of the members of the House of Representatives who worked tirelessly to ensure the passage of this legislation. Their leadership—and the leadership of President Obama—delivered on the longstanding progressive goal of fundamentally reforming our nation’s health care system.

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John D. Podesta is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for American Progress.

What health reform promises the nation

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