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It was an exciting time to be in DC yesterday. Our health policy class was able to attend the House press conference on the West Steps of the Capitol releasing their health reform bill that is expected to go to the floor next week. We heard from a panel of very tired health policy staffers from across the spectrum including Sarah Dash from Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro’s office, who I spoke with at length later about the bill. In the afternoon I visited all the offices of CT’s delegation. CTHPP Board member Congressman Joe Courtney and his health staffer, Maija Welton, were very gracious. Joe had just left the House Caucus and full of details about the bill. Senate staff in Sen. Dodd’s HELP committee were less sanguine about the chances of getting 60 votes for many of the House bill’s best provisions but very helpful in explaining where they are. Asked what we can do to help them, Joe asked that advocates work to clear up the myths being sold to seniors that health reform will harm Medicare. In fact, the House bill reduces and eventually eliminates the donut hole in prescription coverage, adds coverage for more preventive services, includes demonstrations for important initiatives that could vastly improve access to care, care coordination, and would help stabilize the program’s financial stability (which without reform is tenuous). My visit was energizing and exciting – I haven’t said that about a visit to DC in a very long time. It is very possible that something historic is about to happen.
Ellen Andrews