Progress is always incremental, and as progressives, we have to accept that the changes we seek may come in stages.
Such is the case with health care reform.
The Senate is poised to pass the amended bill this week, and then after the holidays a conference committee of House and Senate members will reconcile the bill into a form that hopefully both houses will pass.
But every day I run into people who do not understand the bill and its provisions. Oh, there are those who don't care that they don't understand it, they just want to defeat it. The Waterlooers, I call them.
But most Americans want to understand the bill that the Senate will pass, and when they do, they are for it.
So here are some facts about the Senate bill which was modified with the Manager's Amendment.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill, as presented in the senate, will reduce the deficit by $132 billion over the first 10 years. Further, during the second decade, the bill will continue to reduce the deficit up to one half of one percent of the GDP, or up to $1.3 trillion.
The bill will also increase coverage with up to 94% of all Americans under age 65 covered.
The bill provides for an immediate ban on excluding children with pre-existing conditions from coverage, and for all Americans in 2014.
Health insurers will have to abide by a set of provisions that protect a patient's choice of doctors.
Annual limits on benefits will be restricted beginning in 2010 and completely prohibited by 2014. Lifetime limits are immediately banned (within 6 months).
Health insurance tax credits for small businesses begin in 2010 which make providing insurance benefits more affordable for employers.
Nationwide plans, at least one of which will be non-profit, will be administered by the Office of Personnel Management, the same agency that oversees the health plans for members of congress.
The quality of care for seniors will improve, as additional health care providers are reimbursed for services based on quality not quantity of the services they provide.
More children will be covered under CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program).
Community Health Centers will be expanded providing access to care to where it is most needed.
Funding for rural health care providers will increase.
New programs will be funded for fighting cancer, diabetes, children's heart disease, and the Indian Health System, and will provide support for pregnant teens and victims of domestic violence.
These are not all of the provisions that progressive Americans wanted, but its a start.
And it shows the strength of Harry Reid that he was able to bring this about.