EPI Research and Policy Director John Irons issued the following statement on March 22, following the March 21 vote by the House of Representatives to approve health care reform.
Last night the Congress took a historic step toward creating a more sensible, cost-effective, and fair health care system. These changes will lead to greater family economic security and a stronger economy overall.
The reforms will lead to the coverage of over 30 million people who would not otherwise have health insurance. Other provisions will make it more difficult for health insurers to dodge their responsibilities to those they cover. From an economic perspective this means that millions of families will be protected from the disastrous financial consequences of an unexpected illness or ongoing chronic care.
The bill also takes an important first step in addressing our nation’s long-term fiscal health. As a whole the bill will reduce the deficit by about $125 billion over the next decade. It will achieve even greater savings in its second decade.
The reforms will also strengthen the economy over the long run. By providing access to affordable coverage, employees will have the ability to change jobs, start a new business, or become self-employed without fear of losing coverage or being locked out of the health system, especially if they have a preexisting condition or if they are in a high-risk category. And because the reform package takes steps to curb the rise in health care costs, families and businesses can look forward to receiving a bigger bang for their health care buck, leaving them more financially secure.
The coming years will require that health reformers continue to fight for changes to make the system more efficient and fair, but yesterday’s passage of the reform package is a big step in the right direction and a clear win for families’ budgets, the federal budget, and the nation’s economic health.