Health reform advocates say legislation could do more

    The Senate is on the cusp of voting on its health care policy bill — and it is likely to pass. Yet, health reform advocates say passage is not enough.

    The Senate is on the cusp of voting on its health care policy bill — and it is likely to pass. Yet, health reform advocates say passage is not enough.

    Listen:

    [audio:091221kghealth.mp3]

    The Senate is poised to pass its version of health care reform. The bill recently moved ahead on a procedural vote.

    Democratic Senator Tom Carper from Delaware supports the bill.

    Carper: I think there’s a good chance we’ll see the legislation in the senate pass by Christmas day, hopefully not on Christmas day, and hopefully the House and Senate will work out our compromises. I think at the end of the day the legislation will look a little more like the Senate bill, that’s my hope.

    At a rally at Philadelphia city hall on Monday, Congressman Joe Sestak said he would have a hard time voting for a bill like the Senate’s that’s missing certain elements.

    Sestak: In my mind, most important of all is the public option.

    For others at the event, the missing element is coverage for abortion. Rebecca Foley is the education director of Women’s Way.

    Foley:
    It puts dangerous and new restrictions around women’s access to abortion, which, I should mention, is basic healthcare for women and really should be treated like any other type of health care.

    Susan Schewel is the director of the Women’s Medical Fund. She says the Senate expanded restrictions on reproductive services from federally funded health insurance, such as Medicaid.

    Schewel: We’ve had these restrictions in place for many many years now, and there’s no way we want to see that expanded. We don’t want to choose between great health reform that will cover thousands more people and having coverage for abortion. It’s not acceptable to us.

    But it’s also not likely to change. The House bill also contains additional abortion restrictions that could affect privately-insured women. Supporters say the restrictions are necessary to prevent any federal money from being applied to abortion.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.