Today, the Senate took a historic step to fix our nation's broken health care system by passing comprehensive reform that will cover 31 million more people, prohibit insurance practices that undermine meaningful, affordable coverage, help contain costs, and put us on track to improve the quality and coordination of care.
But this flawed bill must be improved. The anti-choice provisions in the Senate and House bills are bad and worse, and represent a step the nation simply should not take.
It is a sad day when the price of reform is undermining access to a basic health service that America's women need.
Those of us who spend our lives working to improve women's health have been deeply shaken as lawmakers allowed reproductive health services to become a political bargaining chip, and as opponents of choice used reform to advance their extreme agenda.
Both the Senate and House bills contain anti-choice provisions that betray the promise of reform for women and would, in practical terms, cost millions of women coverage for basic reproductive health care. This should not stand.
We will work tirelessly to improve the final bill, including by urging conferees to provide more support to the low- and moderate-income families that will now have to purchase coverage.
We must strengthen the final bill by maintaining strong delivery and payment reforms, ensuring greater affordability and meaningful benefits, and guaranteeing effective market reforms that prohibit the discriminatory practices that have put affordable, quality health coverage out of reach for millions of women and families.
We see today's vote, and the eventual enactment of this bill, as a beginning rather than an end.
The true test of reform's success will depend on whether it delivers on the promise to expand access to high quality, affordable care; dramatically improves quality and care coordination; gives us better value for our health dollars; and puts us on track to get costs under control. We see implementation as key, and making our health care system work for the most vulnerable patients is essential.
And we look forward to the day when women's health is no longer bargained away.
Our elected leaders' work will not be done until those goals are achieved. And we will count on you to stand by our side.
It's a resolution for the new year that we must all keep!