Baucus, Tester applaud passage of health care bill
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Tim Leeds Havre Daily News [email protected]
Montana's senators, Max Baucus a n d J o n Tester, voted e a r l y t h i s morning for a bill to reform t h e health care industry in the United States. The bill passed 60-39. “Today's vote is a huge victory for Montanans and a culmination of countless hours of hard work and determination to change our country's broken health care system,” Baucus said in a press release. “I have never been more proud of our efforts to serve Montanans in Congress. Health care reform was a challenging undertaking and my colleagues and I spent many months struggling to find workable solutions to complex problems. In the end, we stood together dedicated to three principles of reform: lowering costs, expanding coverage and improving health care quality for all Americans.” Baucus, Senate Finance Committee chair, started working on a bill to reform health care two years ago. The vote this morning was on a bill coming from a melding and revision of his bill and a bill passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The bill now will have to be melded with a b i l l p a s s e d by t h e Ho u s e o f Representatives. Tester touted the strengths of the bill in a statement released after the vote. “This morning I voted to keep the government out of our health care decisions while making insurance affordable for all Americans,” he said. “I voted to stop insurance companies from denying coverage to folks with pre-existing conditions. And I voted to cut our national deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars. “This health care reform bill saves lives, saves money and saves Medicare,” Tester added. “I voted for it because it's right for Montana's families, kids, seniors, small businesses and family farms and ranches.” The bill will make health coverage more affordable for families and businesses and slow the growth of health care spending so costs are more sustainable for Montana families, businesses and the federal budget, Baucus said in his release, adding that the investment is financed responsibly and is fully paid for, so it doesn't add to the federal deficit. Citing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Web site, www. Healthreform.gov, Baucus listed benefits that would accrue in Montana: 159,000 residents who do not have insurance and 79,000 residents who have nongroup insurance could get affordable coverage through the health insurance exchange. 93,200 residents could qualify for premium tax credits to help them purchase health coverage. 160,000 seniors would receive free preventive services. 28,400 seniors would have their brandname drug costs in the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” halved. 24,200 small businesses could be helped by a small business tax credit to make premiums more affordable.