Iowans lobby for health reform in Washington, D.C. - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowans lobby for health reform in Washington, D.C.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KWWL) - Two eastern Iowans are in our nation's capitol pushing for reform to health care. Their visit falls on the same day health care legislation passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Amy Johnson-Boyle and Tim Boyle, of Cedar Rapids, watched first hand as the Senate committee voted 13-10 along party lines with Democrats in favor to pass the $600 billion measure. The two are in Washington, D.C. lobbying alongside more than 50 volunteers with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). The group, with at least one representative from each state, is calling for immediate action on comprehensive health care reform.

"This is the biggest healthcare issue of our generation. It's exciting that lawmakers are having this discussion. There's no reason for losing so many lives and spending millions of dollars because people don't have access to quality healthcare that could diagnose cancer early," Amy Johnson-Boyle said.

The bill would expand coverage to nearly all Americans by requiring individuals get insurance and employers to contribute to the cost. It would also provide federal aid to families and individuals making less than four times the poverty level of about $88,000 for a family of four. Committees in both the House and Senate are working simultaneously on reform measures. The House health committee could vote on the measure Thursday.

"It was certainly a historic vote and it was a privilege to be there and watch the senate committee vote in favor of it. Among the elements, they would remove any pre-existing conditions for insurance, which is important for people with or who have had cancer. In this economy, when you lose a job, not only do you lose a paycheck, you lose insurance, then you can't get insurance if you already had cancer. A generation ago, if you got laid off, you lost a paycheck, now its insurance coverage also. This plan contains ways to get around that so it's not so bad to lose a job today," Tim Boyle said.

Senator Charles Grassley was not a part of the committee vote, but he did help explain the reasons behind republican disapproval of the bill.

"The reason the republicans decided to vote against that is because it's going to lead to rationing. It's going to lead to tax increases at a time you shouldn't increase taxes.  It's going to just harm our healthcare system today without accomplishing everything you're supposed to," Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) said.

Grassley said much of the apprehension comes because the bill would restructure 16% of our economy.  He does hail one part of the legislation.  He would push for the elimination of discrimination against pre-existing conditions when applying for health insurance.

"I thank Amy and Tim Boyle of the American Cancer Society for taking the time to meet with me. As we move forward on health care reform, I will continue to push for reform that works for Iowans. I have been an original co-sponsor on legislation that would prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions for 2 years now, and as Amy and Tim pointed out, the time for action has come. Iowa families should no longer live in fear that health care bills could destroy their family's lifelong savings or make career and life decisions based on fear of losing health insurance. It is people like Amy and Tim who motivate me to work day in and day out for reform to create stable health care coverage that can't be taken away, with greater choices, and the peace of mind that if you or a loved one gets sick, your family won't be forced into bankruptcy," Representative Dave Loebsack, (D-IA) said.

Online Producer: Mike Verlo

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