Yesterday I was honored to be at the White House to join President Obama as he signed health insurance reform into law. As we waited for the President to join us, it was great to see the smiling faces of so many dedicated Democrats who worked so hard to see this through to the end.
But none of us in that room, including President Obama, could have passed health reform without your unwavering support. The petition signatures, visits, phone calls, emails, and letters kept this issue moving forward -- week after week, month after month.
Every time I read a letter from an Ohioan on the Senate floor, it reminded me that as tough as these political fights are, they're nothing compared to what families in Ohio and around the country have to deal with on a daily basis to get the care they need for themselves, their children, parents, and grandparents.
Those heart-wrenching stories remind us what we are about. For those suffering, struggling, and dying under our broken system -- it's not going to be like that anymore. This is real change.
In the first year, important reforms kick in. No child will be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, and insurance companies cannot drop people who happen to get sick. Young adults can stay on their parents' health insurance plan up to their 27th birthday. And new health insurance plans must cover checkups and preventive care with no co-pay.
Seniors on Medicare will get a rebate to fill the "donut hole" in their drug coverage, and small businesses will get tax credits covering up to 50% of premiums. Insurers will be required to put more premiums dollars toward actual health care services, not administration, advertising, or profits.
Insurance premium increases will be have to be reviewed and justified, and lifetime caps on the amount of insurance a person can have will be banned all together. Finally, a temporary high-risk pool will be set up to cover adults with pre-existing conditions until the exchanges come online in few years.
This is real progress. Ohioans and Americans are going to see improvements in the way they apply for, access, and pay for their health care. The long, tough fight was well worth the reward - health insurance for 32 million more Americans and a leveled playing field for all.
It could never have happened without your voice in the debate. Thank you for your dedication, your voice, and your thoughts and prayers. Together, we got this done.