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In many ways, Massachusetts has held the spotlight throughout the majority of the national health reform conversation. For one, Massachusetts is unique in having passed legislation aimed at covering all within their state. For another, one of the most fervent champions for health reform is the late Senator Ted Kennedy who hailed from the state of Massachusetts.  And in the aftermath of this Tuesday’s Senatorial election in Massachusetts, our collective gaze turns once more to this attention-grabbing state.

But what is the level of significance that Massachusetts’ election has on the entirety of U.S. politics?

With the election of Senator Brown, a Republican, Senate Democrats have lost their supermajority. Technically speaking, Democrats had only comprised 58 of the 100 members of the U.S. Senate. But with 2 Independents caucusing with the Democrats, they had totalled 60–the magic number needed to override any filibuster on the health reform legislation. (For those who need a refresher from your courses in high school civics, a filibuster is a process used by legislators to either slow or completely block passage of legislation)  And following the election of Senator Brown, they total 59.

So now what?

Now the leaders who drafted and introduced the legislation must consider a variety of options on how to move forward with health reform. Check back with Voices’ website to read up on some of the options detailed within our forthcoming weekly legislative update.

Regardless of whatever option is chosen, the health reform process continues. I’m sure many of us in the health policy field had assumed that something concrete would have happened by now. Many of us who have been watching closely grow weary with each day, week, month that passes while the debate continues.

But we have to remember that the reforms of today will impact not only our generation but those to come as well.  It is not in vain that we continue to advocate for meaningful reform to our current health care system.

We must be determined.  And tireless.


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January 2010
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