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It's fortunate for all Montanans that the U.S. Congress passed the health care bill. Thank heavens Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus voted for it.

It brings the nation into the majority of democratic nations of the world which have undertaken such laws long before us, and benefits Montanans in many needed ways.

It ends deductible and co-pays for preventative care for seniors this year and for everyone by 2018. This will benefit 160,000 senior Montanans in the first year. This is an area of health care where Montanans have been woefully lacking. For instance, 43 percent of Montanans in the age brackets where colorectal cancer screening is recommended have not had it.

It provides tax credits for up to 24,200 Montana small businesses to help make coverage more affordable.

Insurance companies will be prevented from denying you health coverage and it bars insurance companies from dropping coverage when you get sick. Some 50,000 Montanans have diabetes and about one-fifth of nearly a million Montanans have high blood pressure. Presently both of these are allowed to be used by insurers for denial of coverage. That will not be allowed under the new law.

It permanently reauthorizes the Indian Health Care Improvement Act which had expired in 2000.

159,000 Montanans who do not currently have insurance and 79,000 who have nongroup insurance could get affordable coverage through the health insurance exchange.

The benefits to Montana children are sorely needed. For too long too many Montanans – including elected officials – have opposed health care of our state’s needy children and voted against funding it.

Since the program will slow the rise of health care costs, will bring about savings from more efficient patient care, and is fully paid for, it is a bill that is needed and will greatly benefit all Montanans.

Ernest Scherzer, Trout Creek

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