Health Care Reform

National, State, Local Leaders Ask President Obama and Congress to Make Affordability a Priority in Final Health Reform Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC–(ENEWSPF)–January 7, 2010.  Today, more than 750 elected officials, faith, labor, and nonprofit leaders across the country sent a letter to President Obama and Congress calling for strong affordability protections for low- and middle-income Americans in final health reform legislation.

Signers of the letter include: Rhode Island Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts; elected officials from Colorado, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio and Texas; Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association; Andy Stern, President, SEIU; John O’Brien, President & CEO, UMass Memorial Health Care; Rev. Dr. George Cummings, Co-Chair, PICO National Steering Committee; Rev. Thomas Smolich, S.J., President of Jesuit Conference USA; Ron Pollack, Executive Director, Families USA; Dr. Faisal Qazi, President of American Muslim Health Professionals; Ron Byler, Executive Director of Mennonite Church USA; Rob Restuccia, Executive Director, Community Catalyst; Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, National Council of Churches; and Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director, Campaign for Community Change.

Together, they – and the hundreds of other elected officials, clergy, small business owners, health practitioners, health care providers and heads of organizations that signed the letter – represent millions of people throughout the United States.

On January 13th, more than 200 of these leaders will gather in Washington, D.C. for an “Affordability Summit,” where they will meet with members of their congressional delegations and deliver the message that affordability of coverage for all families is paramount to health reform’s success.

The letter, which follows below, was spearheaded by Community Catalyst, Families USA, the Health Rights Organizing Project, PICO National Network and SEIU – national groups that have been at the forefront of efforts to ensure health reform is affordable for all Americans.

January 7, 2010

Dear President Obama and Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives:

The United States is closer than ever before to making quality affordable health care available to all families.

Yet, health care reform can only succeed if it makes coverage truly affordable for ordinary families who are finding it more and more difficult to get the care they need. Requiring people to purchase health insurance that costs too much and covers too little would frustrate the fundamental goals of health reform and undermine the public support needed to pass and sustain reform.

The House of Representatives has passed health reform legislation that would cover 36 million people, 96 percent of all legal residents. The House covers five million more people than the Senate. We urge you to support the coverage provisions in the House bill, so that millions of Americans are not left uninsured after the passage of comprehensive health reform.

On the critical question of making coverage affordable, the House legislation sets premiums and out-of-pocket costs at levels that are likely to be affordable to lower-income working families. The House does a much better job in protecting lower-income people. The Senate approach provides somewhat better protections for middle-income workers, but would require lower-wage workers to buy insurance that costs many thousands of dollars more than the House legislation. We urge you to take the best elements of both approaches to create legislation that would protect all families from costs they cannot afford.

The undersigned are not collectively endorsing or supporting every element of either the House or Senate legislation, but we are unified in believing that (1) the House does a far better job at extending coverage to many more people; (2) that the House sets premium and out-of-pocket costs for lower-income workers at levels that are essential to the success of health reform; and (3) the Senate protections for middle-income families should be included in the final bill.

Therefore, we strongly urge President Obama and Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to take the best elements of both bills in crafting final legislation that works for all families.

See the letter with all signers here: