Health care reform: what it means for your family

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The House of Representatives is expected to have an up or down vote on a health care reform bill this week.

And it's not just Republicans and Democrats who are disagreeing.

Washington is trying to get the House of Representatives and the Senate to come to a consensus.

"This is a very, very important time historically and particularly this week," Carole Myers told Volunteer TV.

Myers is an Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing at UT. She also works with the Howard Baker Center on health policy.

So, you know she's following Washington closely.

"About 80% of what's in the House bill is also in the Senate bill, so there's a tremendous amount of concordance between the House and Senate bills," Myers said.

But it's those differences that need to be worked out.
And Republicans-- even some Democrats-- aren't budging.

"What we ought to do this week is defeat this bill," Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander said on a Sunday morning political show.

Myers says you fall into one of three groups.
Here's what you need to know if a bill passes:

"If you're like the majority of Americans and you have employer-based health care, you won't see major changes," Myers explained. "If you're one of 47 million uninsured Americans, you will now have insurance, so there will be major changes for that second group," she continued. "The third group of Americans is those who purchase health care on an individual basis [and] that's the group that will be using the insurance exchanges and get some protections that they currently don't have today as far as being accepted for insurance and the cost of insurance."

Myers says all groups will see preventative care covered 100% and insurance companies won't be able to deny or drop you for pre-existing conditions.

"This is the closest we have ever been to a sweeping national health reform since when Medicare and Medicaid were passed in 1965," Myers said.

That is, if everyone can agree.

"Americans have said, don't pass this bill. And this is the most brazen act of political arrogance that I can remember since the Watergate years," Senator Alexander went on to say in his Sunday morning appearance.

The task before the House this week is to reconcile what they want with the bill the Senate passed on Christmas Eve.

After the up or down vote, the House will try to pass a bill with more changes to their liking. That bill would then go to the Senate and would have to pass there before moving on to the President's desk.

Even when legislators get all that worked out, experts say the plan will probably only cover 30 of the 47 million uninsured. And, it will take three to five years to phase in.

Some of the hold-ups, the hot button issues: abortion funding, care for illegal immigrants and how to pay for the plan.

Democrats say they have the votes they need, without Republican support.

You can read the health care reconciliation bill HERE (PDF, 3.26 MB).

Below are some links for you to voice your opinion and to see the House bill going up for a vote.

Click here to find your representative.

Click here to find your senator.

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